Concrete, the most used material in construction
Today, the most widely used structural material in the world for construction is concrete. Its benefits mask dangerous environmental impacts, both for the planet and for human health. Therefore, from Pallars Fuestes we want to share the environmental impacts caused by unsustainable buildings.
This substance is mainly composed of cement, aggregates and water. As for the manufacture of cement, it is responsible for 7% of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere worldwide. And, unlike wood, that has a neutral balance by consuming less energy, its manufacture consumes enormous amounts of it. It is also the second industry that globally pollutes the air the most globally due to dust production.
Although it has such a negative impact on the environment, it’s not yet possible to propose its total replacement since there is no viable alternative. However, a great improvement for the sector is that the cement-concrete binomial decreases its presence in construction and forgoes part of its market to materials with better environmental credentials, such as wood.
Environmental impacts caused by unsustainable buildings
Therefore, the environmental impacts caused by unsustainable buildings are:
- 35% of CO2 emissions
- More than 40% of energy consumption
- More than 30% of material use and waste generation
How to combat climate change?
In addition to structural materials, a multitude of products are used in construction with similar problems regarding the environment, for example, steel, being the second most polluting material after concrete, brick, ceramic, steel and aluminum.
In order to combat climate change from the construction sector, a change of model and an increase in the use of less polluting products that require less energy in their manufacture is necessary.
In the European Regulation on Construction Products (EU 305/2011) among its essential requirements is the sustainable use of materials. This way, it imposes a new model of sustainable, green construction, with low CO2 emissions and energy efficiency.
As architect Alex de Rijke said, “Steel was the building material of the 19th century and concrete of the 20th century. Wood will be that of the 21st century. “
In this new model, architects and decorators who are committed to sustainable construction are clear: wood is better
Not only do companies in the sector agree that wood is preferable to other materials, but so do conservation groups such as WWF and Greenpeace.
Both groups ensure that wood is a good material since it’s a natural resource that can be reused and recycled. In addition, its production and disposal does not pollute. Lastly, they guarantee that when the wood comes from a well-managed forest and carries a demanding forest certificate such as FSC, wood is undoubtedly the most ecological material compared to others whose manufacturing and disposal process consumes a lot of energy and pollutes.