Archive for the ‘Environmental Economics’ Category
How to trim an Apple Tree Part 1 of 2
From Denver Tree Service company
Many apple tree owners hesitate at the idea of having to trim their apple tree. Making one cut too many and risking damaging your tree is high on the list of reasons why that reservation is so. Keeping your tree trimmed, however, will help it in ways that are worth the risk, even if you find that you have to do it yourself. Consider these instructions on how to trim an apple tree to ease the trepidation you may feel when pondering the task. The reasons to trim your tree such as opening the branches to sunlight and air and encouraging fruiting spurs are more than enough to perform this task carefully and on a scheduled basis.
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How To Prune
When you trim or prune your apple tree, you will focus on the tree’s spurs, the short branches where the apple trees blossom its fruit. There will be unproductive wood on branches that can prevent supple fruit. There may also be diseased or damaged branches that you will need to remove. Dead wood may also host insects that will most definitely damage your tree. A great way to determine what wood is dead, diseased, or damaged is to consider its color in relation to the rest of the branch and tree. The dead wood will be of a brittle texture, dark and barely hanging onto the tree in some cases.
Another hinderance in a tree’s growth are suckers, whorls, and water sprouts. Suckers are branches that begin to grow from the tree’s base, whorls may grow from a neighboring branch and become entangled into another branch, and water sprouts are thin, upright branches that only sap energy from the tree and will never produce fruit. Never let these culprits hang around too long; the earlier you trim them, the better for your apple tree.
To find part two, please search for the following phrase on a search engine: “How to trim an Apple Tree Part 2 of 2″
Identity theft is a crime that continues to grow in spite of public awareness and efforts by law enforcement to stop it. As it becomes more popular and profitable, the techniques used to steal identities become more sophisticated and harder to prevent. Businesses that collect sensitive data from clients have become a major target of identity theft crimes, threatening the security of both the business and its clients. A good method for defeating these crimes, or at least reducing the risk, is document destruction.
Paper shredding protects your business and your clients from identity theft by eliminating one of the most common ways of stealing identity information. It’s no longer enough to throw things in the trash. In fact, that’s now one of the first places criminals look. Storing records indefinitely may be an option, but why use unnecessary space and still risk having the information stolen by criminals who break in? By shredding the paper, you eliminate the need to store it and the possibility of having the information stolen.
Fortunately, proper document destruction and removal is easier than ever thanks to mobile shredding companies. There’s no need to invest valuable company funds in purchasing and maintaining paper shredding equipment that becomes jammed or fails to shred to documents sufficiently, no need to waste employee time on shredding dozens of documents every day or worrying that something will be forgotten, and no need to deal with the disposal of all that shredded waste.
Reputable mobile shredding companies provide secure bins for discarding sensitive data, including paper records, computer disks, and other items standard paper shredders can’t handle, then come directly to the business, shred the documents, and remove the waste. With mobile shredding, the business owner can see the documents being shredded and feel confident knowing that data has been properly disposed of before it leaves the premises. Even better, properly shredded documents can safely be recycled, protecting the business, the clients, and the environment at the same time.
When it comes to protecting businesses, clients, and the environment, effective document destruction is one of the best security services a company can invest in. Thieves can’t steal what they can’t find.
Nine from ten homes within the United kingdom are in possession of a kerbside assortment of recyclable materials, and recycling initiatives are growing daily. However, you will find many people from the population that remain not aware of the items it really is. What’s recycling and you skill in order to save this earth from dangerous waste by items.
Recycling is really a process by which you take advantage of used materials and using them as new items. Products produced from materials for example aluminium, plastic water bottles, some types of paper, glass, metal, plastic, electronics and textiles are recyclable.
This is a great method for saving removing new recycleables in the earth, which reduces energy usage, reduces green house gas pollutants, and stops water quality by reduction of the requirement for waste disposal in landfill sites.
Recycling Saves Energy
It requires less energy to process recycled materials rather than process recycleables in the earth. For instance, it requires a 75% less energy to recycle aluminium rather than mine it in the earth. The power it might decide to try transport recycleables in the source can also be saved. Saving energy in by doing this also decreases pollution from carbon pollutants.
Recycling Reduces Global Warming and Pollution
By saving energy through recycling, COA¨Ï¡À pollutants are lessened. Recycling non-biodegradable waste (ie. plastics, metal, and glass) assists in easing polluting of the environment and gasses that will well be coming from landfill sites.
Recycling Reduces Waste and Space in Landfills
Landfills are mainly made up of non-biodegradable waste that takes a very long time to decompose. Recycling can decrease the materials which are hidden in landfills.
Recycling Saves our planet
Recycling helps the environment. For example, we all know that lots of trees are cut lower to create paper. By recycling paper, we are able to reduce the amount of trees which are cut lower. Items which are manufactured from recycleables which come from your natural assets ought to be recycled to ensure that we are able to preserve the environment.
Recycling Saves Money
Recycling provides ways to save cash. Using items which are recycled reduces expenses, as recycled items are usually less costly than items produced from virgin materials.
After some investment, either in a compost bin or perhaps a wormery you can recycle various sorts of food waste, like eggshells, fruit and vegetable peelings and employ the composted material to fertilize plants inside your garden.
So What Can be Recycled
It may be frequently difficult to remember so what can be recycled. Just about anything that may be re-processed for everyone another purpose is recognized as a recyclable products. aluminium, plastic water bottles, some types of paper, glass, metal, plastic, electronics and textiles are highly recyclable materials.
In offices apart from paper, card board and plastic items, other materials and items could be recycled. Cell phones, Ink tubes, computer systems and batteries could be recycled. Tyres, keyboards, bulbs, vehicle batteries, metal scraps and small electronics. Wood, wires, cables and rope can become other helpful items after some creativeness.
Making other items from recycled glass and paper utilizes a considerably minimal amount of energy than creating brand-new materials. Used glass can become food and decorative jars, beverage bottles along with other glass materials employed for construction. Segregating glass based on colour and getting rid of the covers is one method to aid in the recycling process.
Newspapers however are often converted into more newspapers, tissue and card board. This could save a great deal of space in landfills. Aluminium and container cans would be the most economical recyclables. The procedure enables the aluminium industry to create twenty occasions more can while utilizing equal quantity of energy. This consequently leads to considerably less water and polluting of the environment.
Plastics are not as easy to recycle than many other materials. Different plastics require different recycling processes, so its better to seek advice from the local council or recycling center. Used vehicle engine oil could be saved in safe containers and introduced to selected oil recycling centres which convert them into industrial lubrication and heating fuel.
Food leftovers, leaves, waste, twigs along with other garden waste, could be recycled within our back gardens. Composting inside a bin or perhaps a wormery is the procedure of transforming corroded organic matters into manure for use for soil or plant nourishment. Home-made compost will yield produce and crops that are guaranteed free of any hazardous chemicals that could have affected plants if using commercial manure.
It is necessary for everybody to know so what can be recycled from the products we use every day.
Saving Energy in your house.company.united kingdom is dedicated to helping citizens from the United kingdom bridge the power gap by providing free specifics of energy savings which may be made around your house. In addition to a selection of renewable sources to create your electricity and heating needs, carefully balancing the needs of low-carbon pollutants, security of supply and cost.
Human being has so many kinds of activity which associated with their basic behavior or anything else which can be supportive for the basic natural activity. People have to eat and we can assure that the process for producing food will have some waste which has to be treated properly. Waste is something which can be avoided in the household and we can assure that there are more and more wastes which can be found outside the household of course. It has to be treated properly but first it has to be placed properly.
There is no one who expects that they will find waste everywhere in our house because we want to get the house which is comfortable enough. Since the waste in household is normal thing, we just have to assure that we treat it properly by placing it in the right place. The treatment for waste will be different according to the type of waste itself but we can assure that there will be support of waste management which we can get. We can get the cardboard balers which can be great support for keeping environment from misplaced waste.
There are some other options which can be found and it will include everything needed for the application of recycling.
The corporate responsibility is the expression of the values within the business strategies and the set of commitments and their obligations that are made by the stakeholders. The company is responsible to the operations that are taking place in the company and these operations are assisted by the ethical values and by the policies and programmes that make the values operational. Thus the organization’s ethical values and standards should support the operations that are done by the company and the operations of the employees in their activities. The social responsibility is the approaches that are taken by the company that is the social and there environmental impacts that show how the company operates and the contribution it makes to ensure the well being of the global and the local communities where it operates. The corporate social responsibility can also refer to the concept that a company considers the interests of the society as the company take the responsibility of the activities of the customers, the employees, share holders, communities and the environment in its operations. (Mark, 2001, pp35)
A business ethics is the application of the ethical values to business behavior, which includes the aspects of the business conduct and also the treatment that is given by the company to the employees and the suppliers to the sales techniques and the accounting practices. The business ethics goes beyond the legal requirements of the company and thus the company has got to know the values that have to be taken so that they can improve in the performance. A company has to address the ethics because of the internal and the external factors that exert pressure on the company and affect its operation. The nature of the benefits of the corporate social responsibility for the company depends on the nature of that company. The responsibility is based on the human resources, the business development departments that are in that particular company.
Where by each department has got its own function that has to be performed so that the company can achieve its goals of providing the products the customers. In the case of the human resources the company should ensure that it has comprehensive policy that will enable it in improving the perceptions of the staff and this will lead to further changes in its performance. The corporate strategies ensures that it manages the risks of the company so that it can be able to build a real culture of undertaking the right thing so that the company can know how to go about its risks. The company has to ensure that it has branded its products so that the customers know which product to purchase therefore the corporate social responsibility has the role of building the customer loyalty through having a distinctive ethical values and this is very important for the company and the customers and every one who has to do something in the company. (Mark, 2001, pp23)
The company should ensure that the requirements that allow the supply of the product have been followed these are things like the health and safety regulations and thus the company will produce the product and more will be sold because there will be no regulations that will affect the supply of this product. The company should ensure that all the requirements are followed and this will lead to economic growth this is because with more production and more sales then it means that the profits will be high and therefore the employees will get high salary that will improve their living standards and thus the country will face economic changes. In throe adoption of the corporate social responsibility the company has to follow the ethical consumerism which will enable the company know the consumer decisions and this will have an assistance in knowing the resources that are to be used so that more is produced. There is the globalization and the market forces the company will be able to seek for public support this is due to the changes that occur as the company is pursuing growth of globalization and thus through this assistance then it will be able to face the competition that exists in the market.
There should be social awareness and education this ensures that the shareholders are socially responsible for the investments that will improve the performance of the company and therefore more investments made leads to more sales and high production been done by that particular company. There is need for the ethics training so that the employees are able to make the ethical decisions when the answers that they get are not clear this will lead to the high performance for such company because the employees will learn the normative values and rules in human behavior.
This will lead to the increase in the benefit of the loyalty to the employees and thus the company will benefit, as the employees will work with a high desire to make the company produce more. The company has to make the consideration on the government laws and regulations this is because if the laws are not set to have the social responsibility then the company will enter into problems in its operations. The company will have a lot of burden to the laws in terms of interpreting them and therefore its operations will be affected and there will be a financial burden to the country because its economy will be interrupted. This is because the company will not perform as its expected meaning that there will be low sales and hence low income is received. (Alice, 2003, pp 67)
The corporate social responsibilities ensure that the company sets policies, practices and programs that will be integrated in the business operations, supply chains and decision making processes so that the company will come out been successful. The responsibility of the current and the past actions and also the future impacts will enable the company know the changes that are to be made so that it can be successful giving honor to the ethical values and the respect to people, communities and the natural environment. For a company to ensure that it achieves the required success then there is need to have the strategic planning which will be part of making the company produce its products as desired. Through this planning then there is need for the mission statement which tells one what the company is at that time where by there is the inclusion of the customers who will be ready to purchase from the company, the critical processes and the desired level of performance. Therefore the company will be ready to interact the processes that will lead to the satisfaction of the consumers as their main aim is to ensure that the costumers get the products that they desire and should not have effect after consumption so that more can be demanded which will lead to high sales. (Alice, 2003, pp 70)
In designing the sustainability of the environment the company should ensure that the products are designed in a way that they will not be produced using a lot of resources this is because if more resources have to be used in production of a product and the resources are expensive then it means that the prices for such products should be high and less will be sold in the market as demand will be low. In designing these products then it means that there will be reduction in the material and energy that will be required and also the pollution will be prevented. This means that the company will have the reduction in the environmental impact that may affect the company in its production. The company should have the EcoAudit which means the company has got to go beyond the compliance audits which are concerned with there evaluation of the company in knowing whether it meets the federal and the local environmental regulations as well as the internal corporate policies and the required standards. This will ensure that the production of such a product is made without problems, as the company will be able to use the opportunities that will lead to the improvement of the product design. The company has to ensure that it can be able to create more goods and services with few resources and create less waste and pollution thus the company will have the eco- efficiency and such a company will have high production as it will face few challenges that affect the production of a product. The company should ensure that it is located together with the service businesses so that they can have an enhanced environmental, economic, and social performance.
This is because they will have collaboration in managing the environmental and the resource issues and therefore such a company will know how to go about the environmental problems that may affect it and thus the product will not be affected. The company should have its focus on the most efficient and productive raw materials and the natural resources so that it can minimize the impacts on the workers and the natural environment. This will assist the workers in making use of the resources in a more utilized manner and the end product is of the desired quality. Through this the product will have its entire life cycle been considered and thus the raw materials that will be used to produce the desired product. Throe is the environmental impact assessment that deals with the identification, the collection and the estimation in the use of these materials and energy flow information and also the costs that both conventional and the environmental in decision making within the organization. (Collins, 2000, pp67)
The corporate social responsibility of a company ensures that there is the consumer understanding and influence which helps the companies to have interaction with the consumers and also in branding of their products then it becomes easier for the consumers to know which product to purchase so that the don’t get the poor quality products. The business owner should ensure that the
As defined by the Brundtland Commission (Potter 2002) pg. 117, sustainable development is the “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. We all should seek to sustain the development of the nations, the equity between social classes and the end of poverty. Development is thus an appropriate goal that should be created through sustainable methods, in order to bring growth and the involvement of people in their own development.
The economy is based on its primary source, the environment-nature which provides animals, plants, air, water, land and so on. If we do not protect our primary source of life, sooner or later it is going to affect our health, quality of life. Social equity is gained through a strong economy and fulfilling other types of needs, beyond the basic ones. These three conform an interconnected cycle that provides us of almost all our necessities.
Spangenberg (Spangenberg 2004), pg 12 points out four issues we should address:
•The environmental challenge, the degradation of the natural basis of human life
•The first social challenge, the increasingly unequal distribution of income and assets,
•The second social challenge, the high number of people living in poverty
•The institutional challenge, the resulting threats to peace and security.
These issues seek, through the appropriate public administration, to provide citizens with the opportunities to have a dignified life, the basis of a sustainable development. A dignified life is thus affected by the following issues as Rogers et al (Rogers 2008) points out and are factors that should be considered strongly in order to attain sustainable development:
•Population Planning. According to Rogers et al (Rogers 2008) pg. 53, “population growth is not such significant factor in environmental degradation” but, I agree with the authors that when improves the competition for resources such as land and water intensifies which it may brings conflicts.
•Participation. Where citizens influence and control activities that brings their own development, including the poor and the disadvantaged
•Policy and market failures. Especially being indifferent to what is damaging the resources, or giving priority to activities to deforestation.
•Good Governance. Its relation with market failures is pointed out and the success of policy, unfortunately, in many developing countries, for example, corruption is common and is characterized by the use of any opportunity to abuse others. In my opinion, it is an unfair threat to development or the worse cancer to it. According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP 2008), “The erosion of human rights and respect for constitutional authority hinders programmes to alleviate poverty and increase human security”. The impact of corruption is worse for poor people and in developing countries.
•Prevention and Management of Disasters. Disasters can affect everyone at any time and people should be aware of it. Disasters are unexpected, with little or no warning or opportunity to prepare. Available personnel and emergency services may be overwhelmed initially by demands for their services, and lives, health, and the environment are endangered (CT Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security 2003). Migration of rural inhabitants to urban cities, seeking more work opportunities, health services or others, make people locate to the surroundings or hillsides of the cities, where utilities are scarce or do not exist as well as transportation or other services to the community. Usually people move under poor conditions aggravating the economic growth of the cities.
•Natural disasters. Disaster management is requested as a requirement for sustainable development because it impacts sectors such as social, economic and environmental.
Cristicisms of the 1st Green Revolution
The green revolution (GR) originally was implemented in response to the growing population during the 1960′s. As overlooked by Malthus, innovation became the solution to handling the exponential growth of the population. Food supplies were increased through the implementation of High Yielding Varieties (HYV’s) of crops that were genetically modified to increase yields. At first this was thought to have been a successful endeavor. Rice and wheat yields in India tripled as more crops were able to grow on the same amount of land. The GR was lauded for increasing productivity per capita, creating more resistant crops, using less fertilizer and shortening growing seasons (Benson 2007).
However, as the green revolution expanded, problems arose, socially, economically and environmentally. Economically problems began because the new varieties of crops were costly, creating a situation where only wealthier farmers were able to grow them. As food production increased for these wealthier farmers, food prices plummeted. Smaller-scale farmers were not able to compete with these prices and were forced to sell to the consolidating large monopolies. This, along with the fact that mechanization of farms created higher unemployment led to social problems due to an increase of people moving away from rural sectors and into urban ones. Cities became overcrowded with unemployed ex-farmers who were looking for employment—creating numerous social problems (Benson 2007).
Environmentally it was overlooked that the increase in yield per area would mean an increased stress on the land for that area. Higher levels of irrigation led to salinization of the soil while the increased water demand lead to salt-water intrusion in the aquifers. Due to the fact that the newly created crops were more resistant to the harmful effects of pesticides, farmers began using more pesticides rather than less. This subsequently further polluted the water supply, leading to the cycle where the poor become poorer because of environmental pollution.
The initial Green Revolution failed in part, because it did not examine the externalities. It myopically tried to focus solely on the problem of production without comprehensively considering the Social, Environmental and Economic Ramifications of its strategy.
The article “The End of Plenty” (Bourne 2009), points out that the use of pesticides and chemicals is killing farmers. It has also been shown to cause blood cancer in farmers. As an example, in Punjab, India, researchers found pesticides in farmers’ blood, their water table, their vegetables, even their wives’ breast milk. Another reason is the high cost of fertilizers and pesticides which has plunged many Punjab farmers into debt. A second green revolution could be based on genetic modification only with the purpose of growing new varieties with higher yields, reduced fertilizer needs, and drought tolerance, but, I believe that, nevertheless, a genetically treated seeds could involve other secondary effects still unknown. I agree with Rachel Bezner Kerr (Bourne 2009) pg. 58, that big companies are pushing farmers to participate in foreign programs instead of using ecological methods and local resources and skills.
In general, the first green generation failed because they focus only on using the land without having a better management plan to avoid depletion. This first green generation exemplifies the wrong idea we still have that mainly economic development is the best option for progress. The concept of the second green revolution is an improved version on what the first practitioners wanted to do, but this time the environmental element is included.
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Copyright (c) 2008 Daniel Lafleche
Today’s journals of trade and popular culture are all but awash in the buzzwords ‘sustainable’ and ‘sustainability’. Here, we are obliged to raise the red flag and warn of lurking danger. These diverse and many advocates do a great disservice in more ways than they know.
For in this great sea of ‘sustainability’, which spans business strategies and regimens of weight loss, one all too easily loses sight of the real battle. We know that over-use of a term can have an unintended blunting effect. But the word is so much in vogue, and its employment so overzealous, that it has in many instances become obscured entirely. So, you ask, what is sustainable development? Who are its proponents and antagonists? And, oh yes, why exactly is it to be so desired after all?
Ours is an age in which we have come under the twin pressures of burgeoning population growth and an accompanying intensification of economic development. This development is necessary for the provision of the surging population’s needs and wants. Though rates of population growth show signs of slowing, the number of earth’s inhabitants will continue to expand massively in the foreseeable future. With the added variable of impending climate change, there is a sudden and new awareness of the potentially destructive nature of the human project.
These realities have given immense weight to calls for an oversight which explicitly takes account of the fate of future generations. Many nuanced definitions have been devised, but the most commonly evoked is that sustainable development “meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” General consensus holds that the sustainability project spans three interactive domains; these are (1) environmental sustainability, (2) economic sustainability, and (3) social-political sustainability.
Environmental sustainability is concerned with the preservation of resources and our earth’s natural environment. In the strictest sense, any process which allows natural capital (the net sum of all natural resources and other bounties of the earth) to be depleted faster than it can be replenished threatens its ability to function and to serve us properly and indefinitely. Advocates of environmental protection actively seek solutions which will minimize the present and future burden to our natural environment of industrial and other pursuits. The best solutions are those which find ways to incorporate renewable methods of resource exploitation.
The notion of environmental sustainability is thus inextricably bound to the premise of economic sustainability. Rapid advances in new technologies and production techniques are constantly altering and expanding the boundary of production possibilities. But ultimately, economics is the science of the allocation of a finite resource pool. Promotion of economic sustainability thus seeks to allow for future generations to reach their own optimal allocations free from constraints imposed by our own patterns of exploitation in the here and now.
The sphere of social-political sustainability is interesting in that it expands beyond the simple necessity of economic growth and its effect on the natural environment to more directly include the human element in the equation. Social-political sustainability promotes social harmony and continuity of healthy political institutions so that a mechanism is in place for the enactment of the collective will (presumably a will which is favorable to sustainability).
The project of sustainable development has inevitably encountered resistance. Some are eager to point out that any economic pursuit which entails resource depletion is by that very fact unsustainable. But to make this charge is to reduce the debate to semantics; to contend that the impossibility of an absolute application invalidates the endeavor wholesale is to court the ridiculous.
Another more prominent criticism is slightly more troublesome to counter. Available evidence seems to confirm the wisdom that as nations emerge from poverty and amass wealth they are more willing to dedicate a portion of their incomes to combat pollution and other unpleasantries. The wealthy industrialized nations of the world at one time advanced through dirtier stages analogous to the present progress of developing economies. However at that time there were no monitors or whistle-blowers. This school of critics cries hypocrisy. They uphold “dirty” mediums of economic growth that wealthier nations can now afford to bypass as the only hope to elevate massive populations from abject misery. In so doing, they seek to force arbiters of sustainable development into the unenviable position of choosing between the welfare of the earth’s poor and that of the earth itself.
In the face of these criticisms, proponents of sustainable development strive for the national and international coordination of environmental, economic and sometimes social policies in the advancement of responsible progress. They are mindful that the world more than ever is a system of actors, none of whose actions bear no consequence for others. Their goal is the day-to-day management of policy decisions such that humanity might enjoy the bounty of our natural environment without exhausting it, and without selfishly revoking the privilege of coming generations to do the same.
Without sounding the bells of certain alarmists, sustainability of this color is to be venerated and upheld. Dilution of the term’s strength by those who would seek to hijack its nobility is, on the other hand, to be regretted and indeed resisted.
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Looking At Concrete In A New Light
Concrete has traditionally endured a poor reputation as a fundamental building material due to perceptions concerning its reliance on virgin raw materials and the energy consumption and emissions associated with its production process. Based on recent developments, CEMEX UK’s Technical Director, Steve Crompton, argues that concrete should, instead, be viewed as a sustainable, strong, long-lasting, versatile and economically important construction material that has a vital part to play in the UK’s development of more sustainable communities.
Concrete is the most widely used construction material in the world. It is all around us; from offices to schools, roads to railways and dams to homes. Its powerful economic sway sees over 40,000 people directly employed in its UK manufacture, and it supports a construction industry employing seven per cent of our population. However, when it comes to considering its sustainable credentials, which will ensure that we balance our current rate of development with the resource requirements of future generations, it is important to look at ready-mix concrete from several angles: its environmental and lifecycle aspects, its economic impact and its contribution to our society in general.
Taking the environmental aspect first. There is clear evidence that improvements in environmental performance are underway to minimise the impact of concrete production. These changes include actively reducing the emissions associated with the concrete manufacturing process, and lower the reliance on virgin raw materials by increasing the use of by-products in concrete. Add in better management of waste, the use of more recycled aggregates and alternative fuels, as well as the thermal mass of concrete, which in the face of climate change, can help keep future housing cooler in summer than lightweight houses, whilst also saving heating fuel in winter, it is clear that concrete has a fundamental part to play in helping to deliver the energy efficient buildings of the future.
While total construction industry impact accounts for 10 per cent of total UK CO2 emissions, concrete is responsible for just 2.6 per cent of this. Compared to the 33 per cent generated by transport, this is a relatively small amount, especially considering its importance as a basic construction material. Concrete also comes out favourably when compared to structural steel, where the amount of CO2 generated per tonne is approximately 10 times greater than that of reinforced concrete.
The use of waste products from other industries, such as ground blast furnace slag or fly ash, either as a mixer addition or incorporated in factory-blended cement significantly reduces the overall greenhouse gas emissions, and means that this essential building material is, and will continue to make, a significant contribution to the Government’s UK Climate Change Programme of driving down CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.
In addition to actively consuming waste products from other industries and processes, the industry is working towards improving production plants and compliance with international standards, such as ISO 14001, to prevent pollution and ensure continual improvement through the implementation of environmental management systems (EMS). Use of recycled water at production plants is also on the increase and is increasingly commonplace.
It’s not only the environmental aspects of concrete that should be assessed as sustainable and positive, however, so let’s consider its overall lifecycle.
Like other building materials, concrete has a life span. When compared to other commonly used construction materials it is by far the most durable, with a typical design life of at least 60 years. It essentially has three phases of life. Its creation, its use in buildings and structures, and its reuse through recycling once the building comes to the end of its life.
It is far more likely that a modern concrete building will be deemed obsolete due to no further perceived usage, than the concrete fabric of the structure having failed due to age. With this in mind, and with cost-efficiency and sustainability now to the fore, reuse of concrete buildings is ever more commonplace. The material offers flexibility and seemingly redundant concrete structures can be worked on, redesigned and rebuilt with new up-to-date specifications. However, if demolished, the resulting aggregate can also be used for a number of applications as a ready-made and important recycled material.
Contrary to popular belief, all rubble does not end up in landfill after a building’s demolition. Anything up to 95 per cent of a building’s components can in fact be recycled, including the most heavily reinforced concrete.
Indeed, recycled concrete aggregates (RCA) has proven performance characteristics and is being used in the ongoing production of new concrete – thus completing its life circle. New European Standards have cleared the way for greater use of recycled concrete aggregates in the manufacturing process, supporting UK Government targets of increasingly meeting construction demand with material from secondary and recycled sources.
From an economic point of view, concrete and its sustainable credentials are well matched. To improve their sustainability credentials, products should be consumed as near to the place of production as possible. This country’s self sufficiency in providing the core materials required for concrete production means that inbound raw material transport and import levels are kept to a minimum. More often than not, the concrete industry uses locally sourced materials for local construction projects, thereby minimising transport related impacts. Compare this to timber, which imports over 98 per cent of the total volume used in UK construction.
With increased pressure on conserving fossil fuels, such as coal, for future generations, rising energy costs and changes to our climate, concrete can contribute positively by offsetting the heating up of buildings (especially in summer). Concrete’s high thermal mass can help absorb the heat generated by people, computers, lighting and electrical equipment, and keep internal temperatures lower.
The thermal mass in concrete walls and floors stores energy from the sun and the building’s own heating system, and releases this at night, thereby sustaining warmer overnight temperatures and reducing the need for heating.
Finally, from an economic standpoint, as a self-sufficient producer of this material and a UK net exporter of concrete and component materials, concrete more than holds its own against other important materials.
Concrete offers many virtues to our society as a whole. It produces natural light when used in exposed areas within a structure, and reduces the need for artificial lighting. It is naturally inorganic and inert, and does not need treatment with additional toxic chemicals. It has inbuilt fire resistance and offers secure characteristics due to its strength and robustness, and will last for a minimum of 60 years with little or no maintenance. There is no process of natural decay, which bodes well for future predicted environmental changes, and as a material for buildings is well regarded by designers and the public alike, who according to research, view masonry built houses as having the longest life expectancy of all construction options.
Sustainability is no longer an issue of choice, but must be considered at the very heart of ongoing development for our society. Assessing the sustainable credentials of products is a complex business and must take into consideration their combined environmental, economic and social impact and performance.
As illustrated here, concrete is a fundamental building material which combined environmental, economic and social performance is strong. It therefore has a critical role to play in delivering more sustainable communities, by reducing emissions and providing long-lasting, secure as well as cost and energy efficient buildings for the future.
We in the cement and readymix concrete industries are proud of the essential role we have played in creating Britain’s built environment and are positive that our industry has a lot more to contribute in the future to the further development of sustainable building materials.