The Environmental Impact of Concrete: What You Need to Know

The cement industry is one of the main producers of carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas.


causes damage to the most fertile layer of the earth, the top layer of soil. It is used to create hard surfaces that contribute to surface runoff that can lead to soil erosion, water pollution and flooding. The main ingredients of ordinary cement are pulverized limestone, clay and sand, which are heated to a high temperature.

This process is responsible for 5 to 8% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the world. Green concrete manufacturing releases up to 80% fewer carbon dioxide emissions. Cement production is responsible for approximately half of the total climate (32%) and health damage (18%) of concrete manufacturing. This is followed by aggregate production, which is responsible for 34% of health damage and 4% of climate damage. Concrete is the most widely used building material around the world, with 30 billion tons used each year for buildings, tunnels, bridges and roads. The material is basically maintenance-free, fire-proof and has a long life cycle.

The environmental challenge lies in its production. The manufacture of Portland cement, a major component in concrete, contributes to 95 percent of the total carbon dioxide emission from concrete. Cement alone accounts for 6 percent of the world's total CO2 emission. The consequences of mass production and the use of concrete by mankind are actually quite complex and far-reaching. Green concrete gains strength faster and has a lower shrinkage rate than concrete made with Portland cement alone. As elsewhere, the concrete craze in the largest nation of South America began quite benign as a means of social development, then transformed into an economic necessity and eventually became a tool for political expediency and individual greed. But, like the United States, Japan, South Korea and all the other countries that “developed before it”, China is reaching the point where simply pouring concrete does more harm than good.

Every part of the concrete manufacturing process has the potential to cause serious damage to the environment. In New Delhi, so much concrete is produced with so little regulation that 10% of all air pollution is concrete dust. Environmental scientist Vaclav Smil estimates that replacing mud floors with concrete in the world's poorest households could reduce parasitic diseases by almost 80%. While carbon capture and storage technologies could reduce GHG emissions from concrete production by up to 28%, the study found that they could actually increase the human health impacts of air pollutants unless the technology itself is driven by clean energy. The debate over aesthetics has tended to polarize between traditionalists such as Prince Charles, who condemned Owen Luder's brutalist Tricorn Centre as a “bundle of moldy elephant droppings”, and modernists who saw concrete as a means of making style, size and strength affordable to the masses. Each major city has a plant-scale model of urban development plans that needs to be constantly updated as small white plastic models are converted into mega-malls, housing complexes and concrete towers. Another way that green concrete reduces energy consumption is that a building built from it is more resistant to temperature changes, which saves heating and cooling costs. Because of their abundance in the global market, understanding the environmental implications of concrete and cement manufacturing is becoming increasingly important.

Therefore, the concept of green concrete has emerged as an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional concrete. Concrete causes up to 8% of global CO2 emissions; if it were a country, it would be the worst culprit in the world after the US. UU. and China.

Chloe Robinson
Chloe Robinson

Evil pop culture fanatic. Extreme zombie trailblazer. Devoted coffee fanatic. Hardcore social media scholar. Wannabe coffee geek.