Concrete Blocks: An Eco-Friendly Building Material

Concrete Blocks: An Eco-Friendly Building Material

Finding eco-friendly building materials is especially important in today’s world. With a focus on sustainability being relatively common, architects, construction companies, and those beyond the scope of construction have to look to do their bit for the environment.

In this blog, we will discuss concrete blocks: An eco-friendly building material

At PPC Concrete Products, we are here to provide solutions for your construction needs,

from the person working their own part-time project, to commercial clients, and everyone in-between.

Monthly construction output had risen an estimated 1.6% value in June 2023, and we would like to think our accessible concrete products had a small part to play by giving our clients easy access to reliable and easy-to-use construction solutions.

What is the most eco-friendly building material?

The basics of an interlocking concrete block

It is difficult to say with certainty which material is the most eco-friendly, as there are a multitude of varying factors that determine how eco-friendly a building material is. However, here are some options to consider for an eco-friendly building material.

  • Recycled and Salvaged Materials: A top choice due to minimal environmental impact. Look for:
    • Reclaimed wood for flooring, beams, or furniture.
    • Salvaged bricks for walls or decorative features.
    • Recycled aggregates (crushed concrete) for foundations or walkways.
  • Locally Sourced Materials: Reducing transportation emissions is key. Consider:
    • Brick made from UK clay.
    • Stone quarried in Britain.
    • Timber from sustainably managed UK forests.

Natural and Low-Impact Materials:

  • Straw Bales: Offering good insulation and readily available, straw bales are a viable option for walls in some building projects.
  • Hempcrete: A biocomposite made from hemp fibres and a lime binder, hempcrete boasts excellent insulation and grows quickly, making it a renewable resource.
  • Earthen Materials: Traditional techniques like cob (clay, sand, water, and straw mix) and rammed earth offer good thermal mass and require minimal processing, using local soil.

Other Sustainable Options:

  • Sheep Wool Insulation: A natural and sustainable alternative to fiberglass insulation, sheep wool offers good thermal and acoustic insulation properties.
  • Recycled Plastic: While plastic use requires caution, some manufacturers are incorporating recycled plastic into building materials like roof tiles or decking.
  • Insulated Concrete Blocks (ICBs): These combine the durability of concrete with built-in insulation, improving energy efficiency. Look for options with high recycled content.

Concrete blocks: An eco-friendly building material

Concrete blocks can be considered an eco-friendly building material to a certain extent. Here’s a breakdown of their environmental pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Durability and Longevity: Concrete blocks are incredibly strong and durable, lasting for decades with minimal maintenance. This reduces the need for replacements and associated environmental impact like demolition waste.
  • Thermal Mass: Concrete has a high thermal mass, meaning it absorbs and retains heat well. This can help regulate indoor temperatures, reducing reliance on heating and cooling systems and lowering energy consumption.
  • Recycled Materials: Many concrete block manufacturers are incorporating recycled materials into their products.This can include fly ash, a byproduct of coal burning, and crushed recycled concrete from demolished structures.This reduces reliance on virgin resources and promotes sustainability.
  • Insulated Options: Insulated concrete blocks (ICBs) are a variation that feature a core of insulating material sandwiched between concrete layers. These offer superior thermal performance, further reducing energy consumption for heating and cooling.

Cons:

  • Cement Production: The production of cement, a key ingredient in concrete, is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. However, research is ongoing to develop lower-carbon cements to address this issue.
  • Energy Consumption: Manufacturing concrete blocks requires a significant amount of energy. However,advancements in production methods are helping to reduce this footprint.
  • Water Usage: Concrete production requires a considerable amount of water. This can be a concern in water-scarce regions. However, recycling of mixing water and using proper curing techniques can help minimize water usage.

Overall, while concrete block production isn’t perfect ecologically, there are significant efforts to improve its sustainability. Here’s what makes them a potentially eco-friendly choice:

  • Their durability reduces replacement needs and waste.
  • They have thermal properties that can minimize energy consumption.
  • They make use of recycled materials to reduce reliance on virgin resources.

How do I know my concrete is eco-friendly?

There are a few ways you can find out if your concrete is eco friendly, as well as directly make efforts to ensure the concrete you use is eco friendly. You can:

  • Look for concrete blocks with a high recycled content.
  • Consider investing in insulated concrete blocks for superior energy efficiency.
  • Explore using local suppliers to minimize transportation emissions.
  • If obtaining quotes from concrete providers, ask them to provide a detailed summary of their eco-friendly practices. Compare this with other concrete providers to find the best eco-friendly supplier for your project.

By understanding the environmental impact and making informed choices, concrete blocks can be a viable option for sustainable construction projects.

Interlocking Concrete Blocks: An eco-friendly solution

Interlocking Concrete Blocks: An eco-friendly solution

Interlocking Concrete Blocks are a variation on the traditional concrete block, and can be argued are the most efficient kind of concrete block. These special pre-cast blocks do not require mortar in order to create a long-lasting and effective connection, and are available in multiple sizes.

Interlocking Concrete Blocks connect to each other via studs and recesses at the top and bottom of the blocks, respectively. Individually, concrete blocks are heavy, but once they are joined, they provide an excellent counterweight against exceedingly heavy applications like a retaining wall.

Considering the fact they do not require mortar to connect, it is safe to say you will be saving money that would otherwise be spent on binding materials, and even some labour costs. But what actually makes Interlocking Concrete Blocks special? Well, a lot of things.

Here is a list of some of the uses that Interlocking Concrete Blocks can facilitate.

  • Material Storage bays
  • Blast walls
  • Salt stores
  • Crash protection
  • Push walls
  • Security barriers
  • Segregation bays, i.e. recycling centres
  • Retaining walls
  • Industrial buildings
  • Fire breaks
  • Counterweights
  • Roadblocks

What makes an Interlocking Concrete Block Eco-Friendly?

One of the main reasons that an Interlocking Concrete Block is eco-friendly is due it not needing any cement to bind the blocks together at all. You can achieve a lasting and strong hold between blocks simply by placing them correctly. This lack of cement greatly aids the eco-friendliness of Interlocking Concrete Blocks.

Manufacturing cement is a major contributor to global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.Estimates suggest it accounts for around 7-8% of global man-made CO2 emissions. This is because the production process involves heating limestone to high temperatures, which releases CO2 as a byproduct.

Breakdown of Emissions:

  • Chemical Process: Decomposing limestone releases CO2.
  • Fuel Combustion: Burning fossil fuels to generate the high heat required for the process also contributes to CO2 emissions.

Impact on Climate Change:

The high CO2 emissions from cement production contribute to global warming and climate change. This can lead to rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and disruptions to ecosystems.

This is why Interlocking Concrete Blocks have the potential to significantly reduce your CO2 output, as they use no cement to bind together. In turn this saves you time, labour, money and prevents further damage to the environment.

Invest in the best concrete blocks today

Invest in rock face interlocking concrete blocks today

As an established supplier all over the UK, PPC Concrete Products is always happy to help, which is why we encourage you to get in touch with any questions you may have or have a look at our FAQ.

In this blog, we hope to have shared information regarding concrete blocks: an eco-friendly building material. Whilst also providing additional information including construction solutions that we offer.

Take a read of our case studies to truly understand how we have provided solutions for business in the past with the use of our interlocking concrete blocks, and ultimately, how we can help you today.

Read our blog page for more insights into our passion, construction.

Address:

The Old Gasworks,

Higginshaw Lane,

Royton,

Oldham,

OL2 6HQ

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday – 8 AM until 4 PM

Tel: 01706 655245

Email: info@ppcconcreteproducts.co.uk

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