For years immemorial, concrete has been a most invaluable building material. Concrete has literally held cities, towns, villages, and indeed nations together and kept their people safe and secure. Homes, apartment buildings, offices, bridges, viaducts, roads and sidewalks have been set in concrete for ages, and urbanisation in general owes a lot to this universal grey material. However, the downside to it, as scientists have discovered, is that the commercial production of concrete releases an alarming amount of greenhouse gas, precisely carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere annually, thus contributing to the greenhouse effect and climate change.
There are, however so many other building options that can serve the similar purposes as concrete does. Some of them are discussed below.
Structural steel is not restricted to the construction of skyscrapers, garages and large agricultural buildings alone. Steel is a highly advantageous start-to-finish building option. It is durable, sustainable and affordable. It can be used for completely metal buildings or for hybrid construction works that build on the benefits of steel alongside other materials. Steel is very versatile and can be included in almost all parts of the construction including the frame, floor joists and roof.
Steel beams are lighter than wooden ones, due to their design, a fact which may prove rather hard to believe. This reduces shipping costs, reduces the labour involved in construction, as well as simplifies the design of the foundation and structural supports of the building. This may also lead to reduction in budget.
Another upside to building with steel is that it is faster. Steel parts are pre-designed for easier erection and assembly. This makes it possible to finalize large-scale jobs in a very short time. The process of fabricating the beams is highly quality-controlled, and so human error is greatly reduced, while supervisors can focus on other matters.
Steel is recyclable, and so steel construction wastes can be used in producing other useful products. This makes it environment-friendly.
A Nissan hut, also referred to as a Nissen hut
, is a prefabricated steel structure of corrugated steel used for military housing purposes. It is made from a metal sheet bent into half a cylinder. The Nissen hut was first designed during the World War I by Major Peter Norman Nissen, an engineer and inventor, and used significantly during World War II. Nissen huts have since been used as workshops, chapels, clubhouses and homes.
Straw bales have been used for years in home construction. Inside a frame, straw can replace concrete, wood, plaster and stone to create home walls. Properly sealed, straw insulates perfectly from heat or cold.
Bamboo has been a local building material in some regions of the world. It is also a promising modern building material because of its light weight, tensile strength, environmental friendliness and renewability. It can replace expensive materials in construction.
Using ground up recycled plastic in concrete will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce weight.
Wood has been a faithful building material through history and still retains many merits over concrete and steel. Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow and do not require energy-intensive methods to process. Wood is renewable and durable.