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

  

Characteristics of Concrete

1

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

2

Versatility

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

3

Low maintenance

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

4

Affordability

  • Compared to other comparable building materials, concrete is less costly to produce and remains extremely affordable

5

Fire-resistance

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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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