Sustainability is now more important than ever. Weather threats, global warming and reduction in biodiversity is causing concern. The quarrying industry is becoming more innovative to tackle these problems. There are alternatives to concrete, along with emerging and implemented sustainable methods. We are going to look at the exciting new building methods first.
Alternatives to concrete
Hemp-crete is a hemp based concrete, mixed with lime. Used in conjunction with hemp-blocks to create houses. The great thing about hemp-crete is that the product can be carbon neutral and reduce carbon while in use. The hemp absorbs CO2 when growing, and is then locked in the building during its lifetime.
You may have seen buildings with grass growing on the roof? Grass-crete is a method of creating concrete that wildlife can grow through. This increases drainage and wildlife, but reduces flooding and concrete used.
Emerging sustainable methods
- Reduce aggregates in landfill
- Reduce amount of virgin aggregates used
- Continuous testing needed
- Higher costs
- Difficulty sourcing
Recycled concrete aggregates
- Stronger than recycled aggregates
- Better quality than recycled aggregates
- Less testing needed.
- Difficult to source without contamination
Implemented sustainable methods
In the UK it is mandatory to create a plan for how quarried land is used afterwards. Used quarry’s can create heat traps and space for wildlife to nest. Hanson’s Needingworth sand and gravel quarry is now a RSPB wetlands centre. This wetland centre has many rare birds, from Kestrels to Bearded Tits.
Ground granulated blast-furnace slag (GGBS) is a by-product of the steel industry. It is used with Portland cement, the necessary component for concrete to go off. Portland cement creates approximately 7% of the worlds CO2 emissions. Because GGBS is a by-product it is carbon neutral, and concrete companies can use up to 85% in their mixes. This decreases cement production and can make your concrete far more sustainable.
Water is a large component in concrete production. Most concrete plants have a water pit for excess used water. This pit is then pumped through a filtration process and used again.
What you can do to help
- Raise awareness of the most sustainable building methods and practises
- Use these wherever possible
- Use high GGBS concrete mixes
- Create a petition to make a local used quarry near you in a wildlife centre