Is Cement Production an Evil Earth Killer?
It is difficult to promote improving the construction supply chains in poor nations when CEMENT is part of the story. Many in the “Sustainability and Green Movement” view the CO2 output from cement production with such disdain that they reject any effort that includes what they believe to be the evil earth-killing powder.
Concrete uses cement
Regardless of the issues that some have with cement, we still need this powder as the glue that makes concrete stay together. And, concrete remains the most widely used building material on the planet, by a very wide margin. Ignoring the value of cement in concrete actually causes a huge sustainability problem.
The poor use concrete
The poor find cement-based products as the most practical building material for their construction needs. Unfortunately poverty causes many to reduce the amount of cement used in their concrete and this creates a big problem. Too little cement creates weak concrete, and weak concrete crumbles down in disasters. Then, collapsed building need to be rebuilt and people need to be rescued, both use up resources.
But skimping on cement is only a small part of a concrete supply system that contributes to the waste. When you consider that there are billions of people building with bad concrete on this planet, you can find a under-discussed issue.
Bad concrete crumbles
History demonstrates that concrete construction in poor regions has a high probability of failure during extreme events like earthquakes, high winds and floods. Over and over they rebuild using the same concrete practices, only to have it crumble down upon them. Time and time again the raw materials are mined and mixed, only to end up as poor quality rubble that cannot even be recycled. And in most cases, our developed nations continue to rush in to rescue and rebuild.
Charities relies on concrete
Many who step up to rescue and rebuild are well-meaning charities from the industrialized nations. These organizations and their workers know the value of good concrete because they rely on it to keep them sheltered and safe back home. Sadly, they find themselves working in regions where the concrete supply systems are poorly structured. And, because their mission is not to fix a supply system, they do what is expedient – They build using the local building methods. This process ignores the root of sustainability – To Sustain.
In many of these rebuilding projects we place expediency ahead of sustainability, and this causes natural resources to be wasted and more CEMENT to be processed. We know that good concrete can withstand disaster and sustain its structure better than most materials, yet we ignore its importance when it comes to international development.
We must change our thinking from responding and rebuilding to a more proactive mindset that involves fixing supply systems. Better construction supplies and processes will allow charities to rebuild in a sustainable way. Unfortunately many who want to save the planet’s resources and want sustainable buildings are missing this issue all together.
Concrete Supply = Sustainability
We will never reduce the impact of CEMENT production if we don’t find a way to plug this hole in worldwide waste. Cement Trust is reaching out to charities and concrete experts to join forces with those who want a more sustainable planet. It is time to reialze that a quality supply systems is the foundation of sustainable building in developing regions. Until we focus our efforts on the base of the problem, concrete will continue to crumble and be unsustainable. Will you join in the conversation?
Concrete Sustainability Video
The following video was produced for the Concrete MD and provides additional insights into how better concrete will improve worldwide sustainability.