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Be Careful, Builders, When Reusing Concrete

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Now, more than ever, going green is a major initiative for construction companies. Builders regularly look for ways to incorporate sustainability into their jobs, including recycling and reusing materials used on other projects. One such material is concrete, but there are elements builders should be aware of when trying to lower their impacts on the environment.

As Eduardo Souza writes in ArchDaily, concretes with contaminating substances like pigments, chlorides and oils can cause damage and should not be used for raw materials. Additionally, “The most effective method of recycling would be to carry out the crushing on the construction site itself, which reduces construction costs and the pollution that would otherwise be generated when transporting material to and from a quarry,” he states.

But the process of building a structure also may require more new material than someone might expect. According to Souza, this can’t be achieved with crushed concrete without the addition of more cement, sand and water.

He also cites studies from Switzerland that prove the use of recycled aggregates can increase energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions if more cement is used to manufacture the concrete due to a higher void content. “When we approach the subject of sustainability, the most important thing is to understand most of the variables and the factors that impact the final result,” he states.

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