Leave it to the UK Environmental Agency to lead the way in the production of eco-friendly concrete. When staging a flood defence project in Woodbridge, Suffolk, it used Cemfree; a concrete that contained more ground-granulated blast-furnace slag and alkali activator than traditional concrete. This move reduced CO2 emission reductions of 67 percent.

Concrete as a material is versatile, affordable, durable, and long-lasting. The use of concrete ensures a longer life cycle of a building, as it is hard wearing and possesses an elevated thermal mass. Its capability of storing and absorbing heat reduces heating and cooling bills. And it can be easily recycled at the conclusion of its lengthy life.

Yet environmentally speaking, the material has its downsides. Portland Cement is responsible for five percent of greenhouse gas emissions, as pieces must be heated to bond. Concrete production takes lots of water, and in turn produces a lot of wastewater.

Back on the good side, concrete is heralded for its fire separation and acoustic properties. Yet against this, a single tonne of cement recently caused carbon dioxide emissions of 0.82 tonnes. More volumes of concrete are needed for foundations due to product weight, and concrete buildings are not easy to deconstruct. The downcycling that results produces dust emissions and alkaline water pollution.

Some companies are opting for steel and timbre, due to their sustainable properties. Fast to build and durable, these sustainable materials seem the wave of the future—this thanks to their lower carbon emissions along with cleaner sites and less waste, and reduced levels of air and water pollution.

Recycled aggregates seem to be the answer, in the form of earth-friendly concretes that use eco-friendly materials to their very best effect. Sounds like a concrete solution!