The superior thermal performance properties of concrete can provide considerable in-use energy savings over the lifetime of buildings.
The energy used in the operation of our homes and buildings is greater than the energy locked in the building fabric.
Residential buildings alone are responsible for 25% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. Using housing as an example, the operational CO2 associated with concrete and masonry homes can offset their slightly higher embodied CO2 in just over a decade of use.
CO2 emissions from the manufacture of concrete are reducing. Based on 2010 data, CO2 associated with the production of comparable concrete mixes is 16% less than the 1990 baseline. Put in other terms, 86kg of CO2 emissions are associated with the production of a tonne of 'average' concrete.
Recycled - Concrete is the ultimate solution for material efficiency
The UK concrete industry currently uses 47 times more waste than it sends to landfill. The target set for 2012 was a reduction in waste to landfill, as a proportion of production output, to 4kg/tonne. In 2010, this target was exceeded with a performance of 2kg/tonne achieved.
The industry diverts over five million tonnse of material from external waste streams, and uses them in place of primary materials.
Waste is used as a source of fuel and this reduces the embodied CO2 of concrete. In concrete manufacture, by-products from other industries, such as fly ash from power stations and GGBS from the iron industry reduce demand on primary materials and the embodied CO2 of concrete.
Research shows that virtually all the recycled aggregates in the waste stream are already being re-used; replacing 28% of virgin aggregates. This is the highest level achieved in Europe.
Generally, when transported by road, the use of recycled aggregates is only a lower carbon option than virgin aggregates when used within 15km (10 miles) of their source.
Responsibly Sourced - Concrete is a local, responsibly sourced building material
88% of UK concrete is already responsibly sourced to BES 6001, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) Framework Standard for the Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products. The target set for 2020 will increase this further.
The local nature of concrete production, and its well-integrated supply chain, has resulted in industry gaining a high level of accreditation to what is currently the optimum benchmark for responsible sourcing.
Designers may now easily source accredited material, and gain the maximum credits currently achievable, in sustainability assessment tools such as the Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM.
Concrete is a local material and its usage leads to social, economic and environmental benefits; including local skills development, local employment and local accountability for environmental impacts.
The average delivery distance for all concrete from source to construction sites in 2010 was 36km (22 miles).