In the contemporary world, the topics of climate change and sustainable living become more and more relevant. One of the main reasons for that is the fact that because of constant technological advancement and the appearance of new developments people see a chance to make their lives better, more convenient, and beneficial. In simple words, they bring advantages to themselves while forgetting about the world they live in and harming the environment. Individuals bring this damage by using an enormous amount of single-use plastic, aerosol sprays, perfumes, antibacterial gels, bleaches, and many other artificial items. Therefore, environmental and climate activists spread awareness about the negative influence of human activities on the world and encourage everyone to be wiser and more respectful of the environment.
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In addition, the problem does not only come from the individual operations of humans but also from the work of various industries and organizations. The population of big cities and capitals grows continually due to the fact that people look for a better life and find new ways of developing themselves and providing their children with a happy future. As a result, local governments see an urgent need in building new houses, apartment complexes, business centers, restaurants, and entertainment parks around their towns and cities. Construction companies are required to satisfy the need and fulfill these operations by using different materials that have a direct impact on the environment and living conditions of the individuals. For instance, various traditional ingredients used in contemporary construction prove to be detrimental for the soil, water, and air, which means that they leave future generations without a number of necessary resources (Balogh). Thus, these materials do not only have a short-term but also a long-term effect on the life of human beings.
While construction companies continue to use harmful products, modern society, and the young generation specifically show a huge interest in green initiatives that would bring positive change to the world and people’s life. Furthermore, a personal experience of working in the discussed industry for more than 20 years proved that the problem exists and cannot be taken for granted anymore. For this reason, structural design engineers have to be educated and encouraged to use alternative materials in order to save the environment and ensure that future generations will live in appropriate conditions.
Considering all the problems that can be brought about by the increase of construction and the use of traditional materials, organizations and companies should start to implement environmentally friendly concrete ingredients in their production. Since a large number of people are interested in the topic of sustainability and become climate activists, more and more information about the strength, quality, and durability of concrete as a building material emerges (Balogh). Concrete is believed to be a friend of the environment since it perfectly co-exists with it at all stages starting from development to implementation (Balogh). In addition, a building made from sustainable concrete are energy efficient and produce a minimal amount of waste (Balogh). It can be concluded that if this type of concrete becomes popular in the industry, it can bring a number of significant changes to the world. Therefore, the main recommendation of the following report for structural design engineers is to start using environmentally friendly concrete products in construction.
While it is clear that the use of traditional construction materials is bad for the environment and for the life of young generations, it is necessary to provide more detailed proof and explanations. In other words, more information about the influence of currently used ingredients should be delivered to the public. As mentioned by Kylili and Fokaides, the official data on the consumption of energy reveals that “the building sector accounts for 20% of the total delivered energy consumed worldwide” (2). At the same time, “construction minerals make up over 30% of the global domestic extraction of used materials,” and the construction industry illustrates the largest waste of 36% (Kulili and Fokaides 2). Judging from the mentioned statistical data and numbers, it can be stated that the building industry is the major agent in contributing to the energy- and climate-related issues that are faced by countries all over the world (Kulili and Fokaides 2). Thus, in case the current trend continues, the situation will deteriorate.
Based on the future predictions that concern the amount of construction and the use of traditional materials, the numbers will grow, and the building industry will be responsible for more environmental problems. For instance, research results suggest that there will be a considerable increase in the number of houses and buildings towards the year 2050, especially in the urban areas (Marinova et al. 119146). Consequently, the impact of the industry on the surrounding world, soil, water, and air will continue to increase and worsen. Climate activists and scientists do not want to let the situation deteriorate but rather want it to improve. Hence, they are constantly working on raising awareness about the problem and encouraging the governments and organizations to change the policies and look for better and more sustainable materials.
After understanding the growing operations of the construction industry and the harmful consequences that they can bring, it can be concluded that something needs to be done. While it is clear that design engineers and various building companies and organizations cannot have an impact on the number of houses that have to be built, they can influence the way they are constructed. In this way, buildings will not be harming the environment even though their number will be growing continually. However, before encouraging professionals to use any specific material, it is essential to educate them about these ingredients and their distinguishing features. This goal can be achieved by researching the available material and learning about environmentally friendly ingredients.
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There are many studies and academic articles published in recent years that talk about the production, implementation, and effects of sustainable concrete. By reading and analyzing these resources, individuals may change their perceptions about environmentally friendly materials, compare them to the traditional ones, and, most importantly, get encouraged to implement them in their practices. For instance, Omran et al. discuss the new type of concrete which contains a few alternative ingredients, such as fly ash and limestone cement, and analyze its appropriateness and effectiveness during the construction process. Furthermore, Islam et al. provide professionals with important information about the use of waste glass as a replacement for cement (37). The researchers stated that using this glass can be “an important step towards the development of sustainable (environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient and economical) infrastructure systems (37). Thus, various sources can provide specialists and companies with different information, educating them and suggesting certain types of sustainable concrete.
Implementation and Its Influence
Once individuals possess enough information about environmentally friendly materials, their characteristics, and their uses, they can start implementing them, making a huge impact on the environment and the living conditions on Earth. It is essential to organize the process of implementation appropriately in order to prevent the emergence of challenges and unexpected complications. Professionals first have to understand the situation on the market and the consequences that can be brought by significant changes since it might help them use the new techniques without damaging the situation in the industry. After that, it is possible to move to the practical stages of implementation which include material extraction, production, use, and maintenance. By conducting every stage carefully while taking all the previous research into consideration, it will be possible to achieve positive results and see the influence of the use of “green” concrete on the environment.
In case every stage of production and implementation is conducted effectively and construction materials use environmentally friendly concrete materials, they will have an opportunity to bring positive change to the world. As it was mentioned earlier, one of the advantageous aspects of “green” concrete is its durability. Sigh et al. described various tests aiming at measuring and comparing compressive and flexural strength and resistance of different types of concrete (86). The research concluded that due to its strength and flexibility sustainable concrete lasts much longer than the traditional one (Sigh et al. 86). Therefore, the replacement of traditional ingredients with those that are recycled and environmentally friendly “can open up new avenues in sustainable construction techniques and reduce the detrimental effect on the environment due to waste disposal” (Sigh et al. 86). Using “green” concrete is a path towards long-lasting buildings and an improved environment.
It should also be noted that sustainable concrete does not only last longer, producing a much smaller amount of waste but also reduces the level of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. As suggested by Kim et al. a specific material used in the production of the “green” concrete slag waste is associated with determining the level of carbon dioxide emissions (3056). It is believed that these emissions cause climate change and contribute to the development of various diseases because of air pollution and smoke. The study by Park and Taehoon proposed a specific methodology for measuring the impact of building material on human health (133). The researchers concluded that pollution produces during construction has a huge impact on the respiratory system of individuals (Park and Taehoon 133). However, sustainable concrete with slag incorporation significantly reduces the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere, encouraging sustainable development and “green” construction (Kim et al. 3056). Thus, environmentally friendly concrete has a positive impact on the air people breath.
As mentioned at the very beginning of the report, the main recommendation for structural design engineers is to use environmentally friendly concrete materials in building construction. However, based on all the details and the information provided in the document, it is clear that construction companies, organizations, and individuals need specific guidance in order to achieve this goal. Thus, some of the suggestions that can be given to professionals who are working towards implementing sustainable ingredients and helping the environment are:
Collect, read, and analyze research articles and publications available online that concern “green” concrete, its possible ingredients, and their influences on the soil, water, and air.
Research and understand the situation in the construction industry in order to ensure that the changes and future operations will not bring damage and misunderstanding within.
Understand the differences between various types of concrete and develop plans that would help to implement them over a prolonged period of time, ensuring that the environment receives all the advantages.
Furthermore, some recommendations could also be given to structural design engineers with the purpose of extending the research and continually finding new sustainable ingredients that would contribute to the establishment of positive living conditions on Earth. Professionals should not only use the material effectively but also make sure that new ingredients are developed and become available to the organizations. Therefore, here are a few suggestions for future research:
- Observe, analyze, and record the influence of various sustainable materials in practice.
- Organize the findings and share them with construction organizations and companies, other specialists, and local authorities.
Work on creating and proposing new ways of producing and implementing sustainable concrete in order to promote better results and a greater positive influence on the environment.
In general, following all the mentioned recommendations during the production and research process can help structural design engineers to understand the process, come up with the best ideas, and, most importantly, save the environment.
To summarize, it is clear that the contemporary environment is in need of immediate action. The growing population of people and their desire to move to big cities and capitals require local authorities and construction organizations to work on building new houses and apartment complexes. However, as the number of buildings rises, the influence of construction on the environment also increases. Due to the fact that traditional building materials contain harmful ingredients, they do not only bring damage to the soil, water, and air but also impact individuals’ health, causing serious health problems and illnesses. Thus, professionals should start using sustainable concrete and move towards environmentally friendly construction.
The presented report provided the readers with detailed and credible information about the current trend and its influences, resources that and can be used by structural design engineers, and implementation and impacts of “green” concrete. It was proved that in case traditional materials will continue to be used in the future, they will significantly deteriorate the current environmental situation in the world. For this reason, professionals should be educated and encouraged to use sustainable concrete. This material is considered to be the friend of the environment since it produces a much smaller amount of waste and carbon dioxide emissions, is durable, and is very strong. Construction companies and organizations are recommended to observe, and analyze the existent research and work on conducting their own observations in order to ensure that future generations will live in appropriate conditions. Therefore, the main suggestion of the report for structural design engineers is to use environmentally friendly concrete during the process of construction.
Balogh, Anne. “Concrete Sustainability.” The Concrete Network, Web.
Islam, GM Sadiqul, M. H. Rahman, and Nayem Kazi. “Waste Glass Powder as
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Partial Replacement of Cement for Sustainable Concrete Practice.” International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment, vol. 6, no. 1, 2017, pp. 37-44.
Kim, Yongjae, et al. “Slag Waste Incorporation in High Early Strength Concrete as Cement Replacement: Environmental Impact and Influence on Hydration & Durability Attributes.” Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 172, 2018, pp. 3056-3065.
Kylili, A., and P. A. Fokaides. “Construction Materials for the Urban Environment: Environmental Assessment of Life Cycle Performance.” Handbook of Ecomaterials, 2018, pp. 2-26.
Marinova, Sylvia, et al. “Global Construction Materials Database and Stock Analysis of Residential Buildings Between 1970-2050.” Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 247, 2020, p. 119146.
Omran, Behzad Abounia, Qian Chen, and Ruoyu Jin. “Comparison of Data Mining Techniques for Predicting Compressive Strength of Environmentally Friendly Concrete.” Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering, vol. 30, no. 6, 2016.
Park, Hyo Seon, Changyoon Ji, and Taehoon Hong. “Methodology for Assessing Human Health Impacts Due to Pollutants Emitted from Building Materials.” Building and Environment, vol. 95, 2016, pp. 133-144.
Singh, Sarbjeet, et al. “Performance of Sustainable Concrete Containing Granite Cutting Waste.” Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 119, 2016, pp. 86-98.