Sustainable Concrete Structures - A Win-Win Situation for Industry and Society

Claus Vestergaard Nielsen

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Sustainable Concrete Structures - A Win-Win Situation for Industry and Society

Article by Mette Glavind, Dorthe Mathiesen and Claus Nielsen, Danish Technological Institute
Featured at "Global Construction: Ultimate Concrete Opportunities", Dundee, Scotland July 2005

Development of sustainable concrete structures has been going on for a number of years. A lot of different tools have been developed in order to reduce the environmental impact of concrete and concrete structures and to promote the production of “green concrete”. These tools and the technologies behind them vary considerably across Europe due to regional /national differences in legislation, market conditions and traditions in the construction industry.

The present article gives an overview of the environmental impact from concrete structures and of the current practice and R&D activities related to sustainability issues. This overview points out the most significant environmental impacts in the life cycle of concrete structures and gives examples of life cycle assessments. Well known ways of improving the environmental performance of concrete are presented such as the use of supplementary cementitious materials, optimisation of concrete mix design, recycling of waste products, improvement of the working environment etc. Furthermore, an overview is shown of recent and on-going activities in Europe related to sustainable concrete structures.

The conclusion is that there is a need to continue the work because of the challenges the industry is facing, and an idea of future trends in this development is given.

Keywords: Sustainable concrete structures, Recycling, Supplementary cementitious materials, Future challenges, EU directive, Self-compacting concrete, Blended cements, Communication.

The Article is published in Conference Proceeding "Achieving Sustainability in Construction - ISBN: 0 7277 3404 0" by Thomas Telford Publishing, Thomas Telford Ltd. 1, Heron Quay, London E14 4JD.