Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world, but it is also one of the most polluting, with its manufacture causing an estimated 8% of all CO2 emitted by humans, according to a 2018 report by think tank Chatham House. But new developments mean more sustainable concrete can be manufactured by replacing the cement content with other substances like fly ash, silica fume, recycled glass and even paper, and also by using recycled water. Alongside recycled steel and reclaimed wood, demand for green concrete is rising. However, it remains a higher priced alternative to traditional concrete, therefore businesses must be willing to make the financial commitment required to make the switch.
Bamboo’s fast growth rate makes the grass one of the world’s most efficient carbon storage systems. It is so strong that some researchers believe bamboo composites could one day replace steel as the structural reinforcement material of choice in buildings – a shift that would drastically reduce the carbon debt of the construction industry, asserted the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 2018.
Polyurethane rigid foam is used widely in construction for its heat- and sound-insulating properties. However, the manufacture and disposal of traditional polyurethane foam has a heavy environmental impact. Plant-based bio foams use plant or vegetable oil as their source material instead of fossil fuels, meaning a much lower energy requirement for their production. Carbon is actually absorbed from the atmosphere during the plant-growing process and bio foam can be composted at the end of its life cycle.