26 Jul Beyond Concrete
Strategies for a Post-Fossil Baukultur
Concrete has accelerated the way we build. Faster and cheaper, our blue and green planet is getting greyer by the minute. The grey slabs are supposed to protect us from nature. From heat, from rain, but in reality they are not as effective as we would like. Concrete buildings are prone to have inadequate temperature control. They need to be air-conditioned (another environmental disaster) to create a living space that we feel comfortable in. Also, our all-concrete environment can exacerbate natural disasters when urban and suburban roads cannot absorb rain and cause flooding. In cities, the heat-island effect is amplified by concrete’s absorption of heat.
Not to mention the impact of the concrete industry on our climate during the construction process. Taking all stages of production into account, concrete is said to be responsible for 4-8% of global CO2 emissions. Only coal, oil and gas are materials that are a greater source of greenhouse gases. And at the same time, a lot of water is needed. Another basic resource for life that is becoming increasingly scarce. And if you haven’t heard about the sand shortage that leads to sand mafias and causes the mining of entire beaches, throwing whole biotopes out of balance, you should look into it.
The disadvantages of concrete are so numerous that we can’t even mention them all in one post. And since sand is incredibly important component for concrete but increasingly hard to come by, concrete’s biggest pro-argument – and the only argument that really seems to count in a capitalist society – that it is cheap, is also likely to vanish. So where do we go from here? How can we build in a CO2-neutral way in the future? What do we build with when resources become scarce? That is exactly what this book is about.