Concrete – Durable, Sustainable and Easy to Work With
Why Concrete is Here to Stay
Concrete is one of the most important and prevalent resources used in construction today. It is the most widely used construction material in the world and provides immense versatility in its application. We see concrete all around us in skyscrapers, dams, bridges, sidewalks and everything in between.
It is estimated that around 60% of our structures are concrete-based and this trend is only continuing to rise. As green building practices continue to move from a novelty to the mainstream, concrete will only continue to grow as the primary construction material. Concrete provides energy efficiency through its unmatched thermal mass. More thermal mass means better insulation and reduced energy requirements for a building’s climate control systems.
Concrete stands up well to the abuses of Father Time and Mother Nature. It provides for many interesting applications due to its malleable form prior to setting up. Once the concrete has set, it becomes incredibly strong and durable. This strength continues to increase over time – allowing for future adaptations to the building. No other material can compete when it comes to design flexibility, strength and durability.
Concrete also can be recycled, using the remains of demolished buildings to create new mixes. Byproducts of industry, such as fly-ash from power plants, can be repurposed from waste to a cement replacement. Examples such as this explain why concrete is one of the most sustainable construction materials on the planet.
Safety is another important factor when considering building materials. When Ground Zero Developer Larry Silverstein commented on the new safety measures at the new 7 World Trade Center (“WTC”) building, he echoed what we at Precision Building Group have been saying for years: Concrete is the safest building material. The new WTC building’s core will be encased in 2-foot thick concrete for protection from fire and terrorist threats.
Lastly, we cannot conclude this article without mentioning the cost and time implications of using concrete. As should be expected with any popular building material, the cost of concrete will continue to grow according to the principles of supply and demand. However, ready-mix industry costs are stable. 2016 forecasts are calling for an increase of 4.6% to the cost of concrete (material alone). When compared to steel, cast-in-place concrete construction can cost a premium on the front end. But when considering life-cycle costs, concrete offers a stronger return on investment. Insurance companies recognize the safety of concrete construction and provide a reduced premium on property insurance for concrete structures. Generally speaking, owners expect to save as much as 25 percent on their annual insurance premiums by utilizing concrete in their building’s core.
In addition to the more straightforward economic benefits, building with concrete is almost always faster. When compared to conventional steel structures, concrete buildings can typically be constructed in about half the time. It is not uncommon to concrete building projects advancing at a rate of a floor every other day. This means that developers can finish their jobs faster while saving on carry costs and operating expenses.