Concrete Block Construction: Sustainable and Green

When you think about sustainable construction techniques, concrete masonry might not be the first that comes to mind, but concrete construction is both environmentally friendly and resilient.

Concrete masonry units (CMUs) can be a key component of green, sustainable design with many environmental benefits. The concrete blocks themselves are often made of recycled materials. They are also made locally and usually shipped only short distances to projects.

Beyond that, masonry construction is energy efficient, providing thermal mass to help moderate temperatures in buildings. Masonry structures have long life spans and are very resilient in the face of storms and other natural disasters.

A Green Choice

A recent article by Peter J. Arsenault delved deeply into the inherently green nature of CMU construction, highlighting the use of natural materials like sand and aggregate, the low environmental impact of extracting those materials, the use of recycled content, and the benefits of CMUs’ thermal mass, among other qualities.

“These inherent characteristics of CMUs have been described as making them ‘naturally green’ in that they have already been doing for centuries the things that we are paying more attention to in building design today,” Arsenault wrote.

Sustainable and Resilient

Another key quality of concrete masonry construction is its durability and resiliency. Concrete masonry structures have long service lives, often going strong after more than 50 years with little or no exterior maintenance.

CMUs are pest-resistant, and don’t rot, rust or burn. Concrete masonry structures hold up against both manmade and natural disasters. Concrete wall, floor and roof systems result in great structural strength and wind resistance.

Concrete is naturally fire-resistant and non-combustible. Concrete masonry structures can help reduce the spread of fires, which often burn out of control after natural disasters because emergency services are overwhelmed or the water supply is limited.

Energy Efficient

Because concrete is a heavy material, it changes temperature slowly. Because concrete slows the transfer of heat, the interior of concrete buildings maintain more consistent temperatures, which means less energy is needed for heating and cooling.

The natural energy efficiency of concrete saves building owners money and reduces the need for the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting pollution. CMU walls can be insulated, providing even more energy efficiency.

Earth Friendly

Concrete masonry construction is a very environmentally responsible choice, made of accessible and often recycled raw material, energy efficient, resilient and long-lasting.

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