5 Green Alternatives to Concrete

Concrete is the second-most widely used substance on Earth, after water. While concrete may be durable and low-maintenance, it is far from environmentally friendly. If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world, surpassed only by China and the US.
The affordability and mass production of concrete masks its damaging effects on the environment. Global demand for concrete is expected to rise (product demand has already increased thirtyfold since 1950) in a world where climate change is evolving rapidly. It is imperative that the construction industry utilize alternatives to concrete to decrease CO2 emissions.
Eco-friendly alternatives to concrete include:

Cross-Laminated Timber

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) stands the test of time – the use of mass timber dates back to well before the 7th century. CLT is as durable as concrete but with a smaller lifecycle price tag. Lightweight yet strong, CLT offers design flexibility and low environmental impacts – it outperforms concrete in terms of energy, air pollution and water pollution.
Despite being 5 times lighter than concrete, CLT has a comparable strength per weight ratio to concrete. Buildings utilizing mass timber can carry the same strength as concrete while minimizing cost and building time.     


Certain regions of the world have been using bamboo for a long time because of its tensile strength, light weight and fast-growing renewable nature. Bamboo is also being used increasingly for disaster-relief construction projects because of its low cost and wide availability. Bamboo has the potential to replace expensive and heavy imported materials, especially in difficult to reach areas and low-income areas with access to natural locally-sourced bamboo. 


Hempcrete is a biocomposite made of the inner woody core of the hemp plant mixed with a lime-based binder. These blocks are very lightweight, which can dramatically reduce the energy used to transport the blocks, and hemp itself is a fast-growing, renewable resource. Hempcrete is completely natural and free from synthetic, fossil fuel-based materials.


Wood remains an environmentally-friendly material due to the fact that trees take in carbon dioxide and require much less energy-intensive methods to process into building materials. This results in a material that has a significantly smaller carbon footprint.

Metal Panels

Insulated metal panels (IMPs) aid net zero energy and carbon-neutral efforts by producing an airtight, moisture-resistant, rigid, continuous-insulation envelope. IMPs offer high R-values and provide superior thermal performance and reduced energy costs. Ultimately, this results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions and reduced energy costs.
Kingspan panels are 17 percent recycled (by weight) pre-consumer, and 14 percent recycled post-consumer. The steel is always reused or recycled, and the foam can be repurposed both pre- and post-consumer.

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