Properties of Concrete

Concrete’s properties make it the building material of choice for most purposes. The most important features are:

Properties of Concrete

  • Strength and Durability
  • Versatility
  • Low maintenance
  • Affordability
  • Fire-resistance
  • Thermal mass
  • Locally produced and used
  • Albedo effect
  • Low life-cycle CO2 emissions
  • Expand all

Strength and Durability

Used in the majority of buildings, bridges, tunnels and dams for its strength

Gains strength over time

Not weakened by moisture, mould or pests

Concrete structures can withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes

Roman buildings over 1,500 years old such as the Coliseum are living examples of the strength and durability of concrete

Versatility

Concrete is used in buildings, bridges, dams, tunnels, sewerage systems pavements, runways and even roads

Low Maintenance

Concrete, being inert, compact and non-porous, does not attract mould or lose its key properties over time

Affordability

Compared to other comparable building materials e.g. steel, concrete is less costly to produce and remains extremely affordable

Fire-resistance

Being naturally fire-resistant concrete forms a highly effective barrier to fire spread

Thermal mass

Concrete walls and floors slow the passage of heat moving through, reducing temperature swings. This reduces energy needs from heating or air-conditioning, offering year-round energy savings over the life-time of the building

Locally Produced and Used

The relative expense of land transport usually limits cement and concrete sales to within 300km of a plant site.

Very little cement and concrete is traded and transported internationally

This saves significantly on transport emissions of CO2 that would otherwise occur

Albedo Effect

The high "albedo" (reflective qualities) of concrete used in pavements and building walls means more light is reflected and less heat is absorbed, resulting in cooler temperatures

This reduces the "urban heat island" effect prevalent in cities today, and hence reduces energy use for e.g. air-conditioning

Energy Efficiency in Production

80% of a buildings CO2 emissions are generated not by the production of the materials used in its construction, but in the electric utilities of the building over its life-cycle (e.g. lighting, heating, air-conditioning

Strength and Durability

Used in the majority of buildings, bridges, tunnels and dams for its strength

Gains strength over time

Not weakened by moisture, mould or pests

Concrete structures can withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes

Roman buildings over 1,500 years old such as the Coliseum are living examples of the strength and durability of concrete


Versatility

Concrete is used in buildings, bridges, dams, tunnels, sewerage systems pavements, runways and even roads


Low Maintenance

Concrete, being inert, compact and non-porous, does not attract mould or lose its key properties over time


Affordability

Compared to other comparable building materials e.g. steel, concrete is less costly to produce and remains extremely affordable


Fire-resistance

Being naturally fire-resistant concrete forms a highly effective barrier to fire spread


Thermal mass

Concrete walls and floors slow the passage of heat moving through, reducing temperature swings. This reduces energy needs from heating or air-conditioning, offering year-round energy savings over the life-time of the building


Locally produced and used

The weight of the material limits concrete sales to within 300km of a plant site. Very little cement and concrete is traded and transported internationally. This saves significantly on transport emissions of CO2 that would otherwise occur


Albedo Effect

The high "albedo" (reflective qualities) of concrete used in pavements and building walls means more light is reflected and less heat is absorbed, resulting in cooler temperatures

This reduces the "urban heat island" effect prevalent in cities today, and hence reduces energy use for e.g. air-conditioning


Low life-cycle CO2 emissions

80% of a buildings CO2 emissions are generated not by the production of the materials used in its construction, but in the electric utilities of the building over its life-cycle (e.g. lighting, heating, air-conditioning

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