is precast concrete sustainable

Is Precast Concrete Sustainable? 9 Things You Didn’t Know

With today’s increasing demand for sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing, precast concrete is now in the spotlight. Sustainability in building construction is the philosophy of designing, constructing and operating buildings so that the use of resources and the impact on the environment are minimized. Sustainability ensures today’s technology meets development goals while considering what future generations will live with.

For a material to be considered sustainable, it must meet three requirements: social, economic and environmental. Precast concrete meets all three conditions, making it a sustainable building material.

  • Social: Precast concrete is manufactured in a factory under controlled conditions, which eliminates the need for on-site labor. This results in safe and fair working conditions for everyone involved in the process.
  • Economic: Precast concrete is a cost-effective solution that delivers a high-quality product. It also has a long lifespan, which reduces the need for replacements and repairs.
  • Environmental: Precast concrete is made with recycled materials, which reduces the amount of waste produced. It also weighs less than traditional building materials, making it easier to transport and install.

A big part of overall sustainability includes the long-established values of reduce, reuse and recycle. Precast concrete meets all these criteria. It’s environmentally friendly, economical to implement, and socially responsible. It uses fewer materials, reuses construction processes such as molds and forms, and recycles concrete aggregates and additives.

What Is Precast Concrete?

Precast Concrete is concrete cast in molds or steel concrete forms typically off site or in a controlled manufacturing process. The concrete is poured into the precast concrete forms and once cured the forms are “striped” away and the products created are then trucked to the job site. 

In other instances like precast concrete walls, the forms are poured on site due to size and weight which makes them harder to transport.

What Makes Precast Concrete Sustainable, Eco-Friendly?

These are reasons why precast concrete is a more sustainable choice than other commonly used construction materials.

1. Precast concrete is durable

Concrete is one of the most durable building materials available, so it doesn’t need to be replaced as often as other materials. It’s often chosen for structures that need to withstand the test of time, such as bridges, parking garages and skyscrapers.

While other building materials can rust, rot or break down in the presence of moisture, concrete can actually strengthen when dry cement particles react with water. In fact, there are viaducts in Europe that are hundreds of years old and still standing. They’re actually stronger today than when they were built.

Precast concrete is manufactured in a factory under controlled conditions. This means that the concrete is cured and finished properly, which leads to a longer lifespan and fewer maintenance needs.

2. Precast concrete is natural

Concrete is manufactured from water, sand, gravel, and cement. Water, sand and gravel come from the environment. Cement is produced using limestone, clay, sand and iron ore. These materials are kilned. Gypsum is added, and the mixture is finely ground.

3. Precast concrete is low maintenance

Precast concrete is low maintenance and made to last. It doesn’t need to be refinished or resurfaced like other materials, which means you’ll save time and money in the long run.

Precast concrete is also graffiti- and weather-resistant, so you don’t need to worry about unsightly markings or extreme weather conditions.

4. Precast concrete is fire resistant

One of the many benefits of precast concrete is its fire resistance. In the event of a fire, precast concrete won’t ignite, even in high temperatures. It won’t contribute to the spread of the fire. It’s also waterproof and won’t be affected by water damage after a fire.

Precast concrete has a very low heat transmission rate, meaning that it won’t contribute to the heat build-up in a building or structure. This is particularly important in areas prone to fires.

5. Precast concrete is energy efficient

Precast concrete is one of the most energy-efficient building materials available. The entire manufacturing process is designed to use as little energy as possible.

In fact, the concrete is cast in a climate-controlled factory, so there’s no need for it to be heated or cooled on site. This saves a tremendous amount of energy, which would otherwise be used to heat and cool the building material. Additionally, precast concrete is made from recycled materials. This means that it can be recycled again and again without any loss in quality or strength.

Heat is absorbed and released slowly from precast concrete. This allows for more efficient heating and air conditioning systems. Thermal efficiency can be enhanced with the use of insulation in architectural panels and sandwich wall panels, permitting continuous insulation in walls. This can result in up to 25% savings in heating and cooling costs.

6. Precast concrete is recyclable

One of the most sustainable aspects of precast concrete is that it can be recycled and used again. During the manufacturing process of precast concrete, fresh uncured concrete that’s not used can be returned to production, recycling nearly 100% of the material.

Concrete’s composition makes it ideal for recycling. Once it has reached the end of its lifecycle, it can be broken down and used again in new construction projects. This makes it a more environmentally friendly option than other materials like metal or plastic.

In fact, recycling precast concrete uses only 10% of the energy it would take to create new concrete from scratch. This is because the cement and aggregates used to make precast concrete are already partially recycled.

7. Precast concrete is versatile

Precast concrete is one of the most versatile building materials available. It can be used for a wide range of indoor and outdoor applications. No matter what type of structure you’re building, precast concrete can be customized to meet your specific needs. It can also support heavy loads. Some of its many uses include flooring, walls, ceilings, columns, beams, arches and more. Plus, it can be tailored to fit any design or project requirements.

Row of Townhouse prefabricated building isolated on blue sky background.

8. Precast concrete is environmentally friendly

Precast concrete is environmentally safe. It’s manufactured from natural materials and doesn’t use adhesive, making it a very sustainable product. In fact, precast concrete emits far fewer greenhouse gasses than traditional building materials like steel and aluminum because of the way it’s manufactured. It also requires significantly less energy to produce, making it a more environmentally friendly option. In addition, precast concrete elements can be used for storing or transporting toxic substances.

9. Precast concrete is comfortable and healthy

Precast concrete is one of the most sustainable building materials in the world. It’s made partly with recycled materials, it’s energy-efficient, and it doesn’t produce any toxic emissions. But what many people don’t know is that precast concrete is also comfortable and healthy to live or work in.

The concrete regulates temperature, making it an excellent insulator against heat and cold. It also absorbs noise, making it a great choice for busy urban environments.

Precast concrete is sustainable because it’s made from recycled materials, lasts a long time, is durable, and is easy to maintain. It’s a great way to make a home or business greener and more sustainable.

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Hey, this is Brian and Gene Luoma. Since the two of us have pretty much been self-employed our entire lives, we have a lot of experience designing and creating all sorts of DIY projects for businesses and homes—projects that have helped us make money or save money through the years!

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