It's no secret that among the architecture profession's biggest sources of guilt is our reliance on concrete in a huge number of the buildings that we have a hand in creating. Architects are more likely than most to be aware of the environmental implications of the material, and yet we continue to use it at an alarming rate. But what alternatives are there in order to do our job? In an article for Forbes, Laurie Winkless runs down a list of three alternatives that stand a good chance of changing the face of concrete construction.
Cemfree is in the category of materials that hopes to offer a real alternative to traditional concrete. Made with ground-granulated blast furnace slag in place of cement, some industry insiders may take some convincing before adoption of Cemfree becomes widespread: Winkless quotes one person saying that cement-free concrete is like "baking a cake without flour," but she then insists that "tests show that it performs at least as well as traditional concrete in many applications."
The approach of Taktl is centered around the idea of "less is more." While this ultra-high-performance concrete is still concrete, it produces far less CO2 than traditional concrete by using less water and by being stronger, meaning you need less of it to achieve the same strength. In addition, Winkless cites a plan that Taktl is putting into place to decentralize production into many local plants, reducing the amount of CO2 released by transporting the material.
3. Bioreceptive Concrete
Bioreceptive concrete is perhaps more interested in appearances than in technical thing like CO2 emissions - however it must be said that for many, the appearance of concrete is a pretty big drawback too. Developed by Dr Sandra Manso-Blanco, this system still requires a structural concrete core, but over the top are a number of layers which encourage the growth of moss and lichen, making every wall made with the material a unique and ever-changing natural tapestry.
Find out more about all three materials at Forbes.