It provides good, measurable alternatives that align with our overarching objectives. When it comes to environmental sustainability, it’s clear that everyone must do their part to keep the planet as green as possible. Part of that effort includes exploring and implementing healthier alternatives to traditional building materials such as concrete.
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Concrete is not the best building material in this case. However, finding long-term concrete alternatives has proven to be a near-impossible challenge because of our long-term dependence on plastic.
You have to start somewhere, though, because there is no longer an option of ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away. So, with that in mind, here are 27 specific opportunities to consider. First, many of the items on this list are made from environmentally friendly materials, and all of them are better for the environment than the ones we’ve been using previously.
Strong, resilient, and long-lasting are just a few reasons why concrete is so widely used in construction. However, there are several more environmentally friendly options available to you.
Popular Concrete Alternatives
The following concrete alternatives can be used for anything from small-scale home improvement projects to large-scale construction endeavors. Here are some alternatives to it if you’d like to break with tradition.
Concrete can be replaced with Aircrete, but is it as durable and environmentally friendly as other options? You can use this material in the same way as cement for driveways. For example, aircrete blocks have a weaker structure and are more prone to cracking, but they are environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
This concrete alternative has gained popularity over the past five years because of its long-term sustainability and cost-effectiveness. This material is ideal for driveways, walls, sub-level, and floors. A cheap and long-term alternative to it can be found in this material’s high-performance levels, both indoors and out.
A foam and detergent mixer can be used to make your own discrete, or you can purchase a pre-made installation. Each block can cost between $50.00 and $60.00 each, and the machine typically costs $500. So, learning how to operate the machine and doing it yourself may be worthwhile.
Fly ash is used in place of more traditional materials to produce this concrete substitute. Coal combustion produces fly ash, which contains about 10% recyclable material. Anything made from repurposed materials is a win in our book.
Blast Furnace Slag
A by-product that can be reused and used to make environmentally friendly concrete is very similar to fly ash in that respect. To make it, companies use water or stream water to cool and crystallize the iron slag that has been poured out of the furnace. So there you have it: The origins of the name. For example, this concrete alternative can replace 70 to 80 percent of cement. In addition, it uses a lot less energy and makes it last longer.
Asphalt is an attractive patio surface, and it’s very similar to traditional concrete in terms of its appearance and texture. Tar, rather than cement, is the primary adhesive in this form of construction. Asphalt is less expensive, but it has a rougher appearance because of its smell, texture, and dark color.
Paving roads, walkways, and driveways with this durable building material is common. Because of its reputation for breaking apart and cracking, asphalt isn’t as popular as a concrete substitute.
The driveway’s width and length typically determine the cost of an asphalt driveway. For smaller walkways, the situation may be different. A square foot of this material costs between $2.50 and $4.00. You cannot use this alternative to concrete in building structures or houses.
A popular driveway material in the United States is asphalt, but before it can be used, it must need to dry for several days.
Perhaps this is a surprise or not, depending on where you live in the world. For many years, substitute bamboo has been used in many parts of the world. As a result, the use of bamboo to reinforce concrete is becoming more commonplace.
The tensile strength of bamboo is astounding for a material of its size and weight. For small shelters and buildings that don’t require the use of concrete, many contractors prefer to use this alternative. Disaster-prone areas can benefit from the lower construction costs. In addition, bamboo is a renewable resource with a rapid rate of growth.
As an excellent substitute, the Bautex wall system makes use of foam beads and composite materials. When compared to traditional cement and concrete, it’s just as strong and uses a fraction of the energy. Storm- and fire-resistant, as well as sound-proof, these walls can be constructed from this material.
Utilizing any leftover concrete waste in this manner conserves resources and helps the environment. For example, reusing your debris reduces raw material exploitation while also saving you a lot of yard space.
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Another by-product of concrete production, ferrock, is it’s alternative. Building blocks and bricks can be easily molded from this material, and you can use it to build walkways and walls, and sub-floor levels.
Ferrock is a different option that makes use of industrial waste in its makeup. Ferrock Steel dust is the most common type of waste material that can be used in this way. In addition, it has a much higher absorption rate than concrete. The cost per cubic foot ranges from $5.00 to $10.00.
Despite the fact that desert sand is extremely fine, Finite is an unusual choice for construction materials. Finite, a London-based company, has figured out a way to make this a practical material.
The sand grains get mixed to create a solid brick-like material. This is a green material that’s just as strong as concrete in terms of tensile strength. On the other hand, Bricks have a lower carbon footprint than it, and they can be recycled. The bricks can be remolded multiple times, and natural dyes can be used to customize the colors to your liking.
As a design choice, you can arrange concrete sidewalks or floors so that you leave gaps in the stone for greenery to peek through. Grasscrete A great choice for outdoor areas, it can be found near concrete floors or driveways. For those who don’t like the look of solid thing, this is an excellent alternative.
Leaving space between concrete slabs saves concrete and allows you to grow plants like flowers or grass without the need for pots. Carbon dioxide can be absorbed in this way. Drainage systems can benefit greatly from this substitute. For example, your concrete walkway or driveway will be less damaged as a result of the gaps it creates for water to flow through.
In order to fill in bare spots in your yard while retaining the ability for grass to grow on top, many homeowners are turning to Grasscrete.
Creating driveways and walkways with gravel is an excellent choice. Clay rocks and marble are just a few of the many types of gravel available.
Gravel is a popular alternative to concrete. In your near local home improvement store, you’ll find a variety of options for replacing concrete in your driveway or walkway. Crushed stone, pea gravel, and the quarrying process are all examples of this.
Your concrete alternative will cost more or less, depending on the size of your project.For example, a typical driveway will require 13 tonnes of gravel, which will cost between $1,300 and $1,600 to buy and layout in the ground. However, you may not need as much gravel if your project is smaller in scope. It’s possible that you’ll save $300 to $1,000 as a result of this. Your labor costs may reach $500 or more if you hire outside experts who bill by the hour.
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Greencrete, also known as Geo-Green Crete, is still in the research and development stages. On the other hand, this concrete substitute is quickly gaining in popularity as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional concrete for use in constructing driveways and walkways. Compared to it, it’s also very long-lasting and hard-wearing. It is using naturally occurring materials and waste in this way results in a lower carbon footprint than previous methods. The material’s composition includes aluminosilicate, which makes it easy to recycle and manufacture.
Because perforated patterns allow grass to grow through the concrete inset blocks, the term “greencrete” can also refer to the method of pouring your project. This is thought to be better for plants and grass, as we discussed more fully above. For example, you can anticipate paying around $2,000 for this type of material and design for an average driveway.
The woody fibers from the internal portion of the hemp plant are the primary ingredient in this concrete-like substance. Lime is used to bind the fibers, allowing them to take on the shape of concrete. Growing it legally was a common practice among the Founding Fathers, who used Hempcrete to make everything from paper to sealant.
Light and strong fibers in it, makes it extremely light. However, transporting these blocks is a lot more efficient. A hemp is a green option because it is renewable and quickly grows.
Micro silica is an incredibly fine powder, a by-product of the manufacturing of silicon and ferrosilicon alloys. It is derived from the condensation of silicon dioxide and can easily replace up to 12% of the cement content in concrete.
Like blast furnace slag, increases the durability of your concrete. Increasing the concrete’s compressive strength while decreasing its permeability is how it works. With silica fumes and micro silica, you can safely use your concrete in any structure where it is exposed to strong chemicals on a regular basis. It’s also a more eco-friendly option.
It is an excellent substitute for creating beautiful and environmentally friendly walkways around your garden. Mulch walkways can connect your garden to your driveway or patio and have a natural aesthetic. By removing concrete driveways, mulch helps reduce carbon emissions.
Despite the fact that you could use a wood alternative, this is a low-cost and practical option that creates a low-cost and attractive patio or driveway.
Approximately $27.00 will buy you one cubic foot of pine mulch. Rubber Mulch and GroundSmart are two examples of recycled mulch styles available in various colors and sizes.
As you walk over it, mulch kills the grass underneath and keeps it in place, making it ideal for defining walkways in your yard.
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As architects and engineers work to create more environmentally friendly structures in recent years, this type of biomass green building material has seen a noticeable rise in popularity. You can grow mycelium if you want to create a driveway, patio, or walkway out of this concrete alternative known as mushroom root material or mushroom blocks.
It’s possible to grow mycelium, a type of fungi root, to create a sustainable walking path around your property. Engineers and architects often use this material to build playgrounds, walkways, and parking areas in environmentally friendly projects because of its ability to create a living structure. If you are willing to build with it, you refer to it as a biomass green building matter. Depending on the type of biomass material, the costs can vary
Papercrete is fantastic as it is made by recycling paper waste. You recycle this waste to make an alternative. Even if it doesn’t completely eliminate all of the problems associated with making concrete, it can alleviate some of them. It’s a good fit for large-scale production.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to alternatives, some amazing work is being done. You will help the environment without sacrificing the durability or longevity of concrete by using some of them instead. Concrete alternatives can be mixed and matched to find the best solution for your needs and projects.