The Role of Concrete in Sustainable Development

Reprint with acknowledgement of the New Zealand Concrete Society - this paper was awarded at the New Zealand concrete conference2007 as the best conference paper

There has been a recent shift in emphasis towards the principles of sustainable development in New Zealand’s built environment. Yet, there is a lack of credible information on the contribution that concrete products make to the sustainability of the built environment, particularly from a New Zealand perspective. This paper serves to outline the current position with regard to concrete’s contribution to sustainable development in themes such as durability, fire performance, thermal mass, acoustic performance, recycling, storm-water management, roading, demolition and deconstruction et al. By outlining concrete’s sustainability credentials, gaps in the collective knowledge will also be identified. One such knowledge gap surrounds the promising potential of recarbonation. CO2 sequestration is an important and significant property, which needs urgent research. Furthermore, to support the principle of recarbonation it will be necessary for the current embryonic aggregate recycling industry in New Zealand to develop significantly. In conclusion, this paper will seek to challenge the industry to overcome complacency and strive for excellence in the sustainability paradigm.

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