Benefits of concrete
Concrete has a number of performance characteristics that can
improve the sustainability performance of a building or
These are explored in more detail on
The Concrete Centre website. An overview is provided here.
The issue of sound insulation and acoustic performance of homes
has grown in importance, primarily due to the growing demand from
government for increased density of urban dwellings. The number of
complaints about noise has risen due both to this closer proximity
and the new demands placed on housing (e.g. entertainment systems).
For this reason, the UK Building Regulations Part E now requires
improved sound insulation.
New building works within areas of flood risk are only permitted
in exceptional cases where the risks are managed and adequate flood
defence measures and/or flood resistant construction techniques are
adopted. The type of floor construction is an important
Concrete does not burn: it cannot be 'set on fire' like
other materials in a building and it does not emit any toxic fumes
when affected by fire. It will also not produce smoke or drip
molten particles. For these reasons, in the majority of
applications, concrete can be described as virtually 'fireproof'.
Concrete's inbuilt fire resistance maintains airtight construction
that stops smoke spreading, and the ability to maintain the
building's strength during a fire.
Thermal mass and operational energy efficiency
Thermal mass basically describes the ability of construction
materials to absorb, store and release heat; a useful property
which helps regulate the temperature in buildings. Heavyweight
materials such as concrete provide a high level of thermal mass,
and this is often measured in terms of something called
'admittance' which has units of W/m2 K.
Low carbon construction
Sustainability is more than simply about carbon, and this is
recognised in codes and assessment tools. However CO2
emissions, associated with materials, manufacture, construction,
operation and end of use, is an important parameter and the cement
and concrete industry is investing hugely in developing and
enabling construction solutions that reduce whole life
CO2 emissions as well as embodied CO2.
Durability and long-life
The full structural capacity of a masonry or concrete wall, with
its considerable reserve of strength and ability to accommodate
future changes, far exceeds design requirements. It is this
inherent robustness that has enabled traditionally built houses to
cater for increased loads emanating from alterations and
adaptation. Their strength also facilitates the introduction of
concrete upper floors which provide clear spans between external
walls and will support internal masonry walls. All internal walls
below become non-load bearing, producing a design where the layout
can be altered to cater for future changes in living requirements,
so satifying the government's requirement for 'lifetime homes'.