There are many different types of concrete used in construction. How sustainable they are depends on your definition. The sustainability of using concrete depends on many factors, which is the same for every concrete.
The higher the number the more sustainable and “green” the material
- Is there enough material so that we can continue to use it at the present rate… Is the present use sustainable? 35% 35%
- Is the present use having little or no impact on the environment including destruction of habitat and CO2 release 28% 28%
- Ability for the Material to be Harmlessly Returned to Nature 42% 42%
Concrete is a composite material composed mainly of water, aggregate, and cement. Often, additives and reinforcements (such as rebar) are included in the mixture to achieve the desired physical properties of the finished material. When these ingredients are mixed together, they form a fluid mass that is easily molded into shape. Over time, the cement forms a hard matrix which binds the rest of the ingredients together into a durable stone-like material with many uses.
Papercrete is a construction material which consists of re-pulped paper fiber with Portland cement or clay and/or other soil added. First patented in 1928, it was revived during the 1980s. Although perceived as an environmentally friendly material due to the significant recycled content, this is offset by the presence of cement. The material lacks standardisation, and proper use therefore requires care and experience. Eric Patterson and Mike McCain, who have been credited with independently “inventing” papercrete (they called it “padobe” and “fibrous cement”), have both contributed considerably to research into machinery to make it and ways of using it for building.