Innovation That Matters

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Combining wood and cement for sustainable construction

Springwise ChangeNOW

A new concrete is the basis for an entire sustainable construction system that saves energy and time over traditional methods

Spotted: Many traditional construction methods rely heavily on cement and concrete – a material with a very high carbon footprint. This has resulted in several innovations focused on reducing the carbon used in concrete production. Some of these focus on using alternate energy sources to produce cement, others on using recycled materials or industrial waste. One company, EnviroCrete, is taking an approach that involves wood.

Concrete is traditionally made from a mixture of an aggregate (such as sand or stones), ground cement, and water. The cement is made from limestone and other materials that are heated to a high temperature for an extended period – a major reason why concrete is so energy, and carbon, intensive. EnviroCrete replaces the aggregate with wood, giving the structural properties of cement and the thermal insulation and acoustic properties of wood.

The EnviroCrete is then cast into hollow-core blocks, slabs, and structural wall and roof panels to create a lightweight construction system with several advantages. These include the use of less energy to create and transport the materials, faster construction times, cost savings, economies of scale, and less wastage and maintenance.

The company describes its system as a “unique, straight forward synergy and circular economy between three industrial sectors: Concrete Pre-Fabrication, Waste Collection and Recycling, and Timber and Saw Milling.” They add that their precast green building technology “is fully compatible and synergic with all existing industrial processes and building technologies.”

At Springwise we have spotted an explosion in innovative construction methods and materials – all designed to be more sustainable and produce less waste or pollution. Recent advances in this space include custom, cross-laminated timber construction and replacing timber with boards made from grass.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

Website: envirocrete.org.za

Contact: envirocrete.org.za/contact

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