How to Lower Carbon Emissions by Choosing Precast Concrete

precast concrete

Concrete is a great building option because it lasts a long time, provides privacy and security, and costs less than other materials. However, the devastating fires worldwide have many of us searching for more ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Concrete is a highly sustainable building material that will go a long way towards making a difference – precast concrete is even better. In fact, precast concrete produces 10% lower carbon emission than site-cast concrete. Here’s why…

The Difference in How it’s Made

Let’s take a look at the difference between building sustainable precast concrete and site-cast concrete, and the impact this could have. 

Cast-In Concrete

With site-cast concrete, the entire project is done on-site, from creating the forms to pouring and curing the concrete. This means all of the raw materials needed for the project must be shipped to the site. If there are delays – weather or other types – some raw material could go to waste. Not only would the materials go to waste, but 31% of CO2 emissions actually come from transportation. Now you have wasted materials and overly produced carbon emissions because of a weather delay. 

When it is time to pour the concrete, timing is everything. You will have several concrete trucks that arrive at the project site one after the other. If there is a delay or didn’t get the timing right, those trucks will start to stack up. If they sit for too long, all of the concrete in the truck could be ruined and wasted. 

Precast Concrete

With precast concrete, all this work is done in a climate-controlled warehouse. The concrete is typically mixed at the warehouse. The finished panels are shipped to and assembled on-site. This allows manufacturers to control what goes into the concrete, including the removal of limestone that is a component of the finished cement product that will reduce calcination CO2 by at least 2.5 million tons each year. 

After the concrete is fully cured, the forms are removed and simply disposed of. This means a new form will have to be used each time. Aside from producing a lot of waste in landfills, this process can also create many additional costs. However, this is not the case with precast concrete. Instead, the forms used to create the product can be reused up to 50 times.

With precast concrete, the precast industry in the United States hopes to improve the efficiency of energy by implementing state-of-the-art equipment in all plants, improving the formula of the products so that they no longer need to use as many natural resources, and develop and research new ways to make the process more energy-efficient and durable. 

Durability of Concrete

Concrete is already one of the toughest building materials available. But it won’t cure right if it’s too hot or too cold or too wet. Because precast concrete is created in a climate-controlled building, every detail of the process is incredibly accurate. If something does go wrong during the pour, and the durability and strength of the wall is impacted, it can quickly and easily be created again. Any concrete that is wasted can be crushed and used again as aggregate.

Precast concrete panels can be cast and embedded with mesh and rebar to ensure they will last for years to come. They are invulnerable to damage caused by moisture, wind, and ice. They even stand up against earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Throughout its durable lifetime, precast concrete can even reabsorb the CO2 that it emits when being made. The process is known as carbonation where atmospheric CO2 can react with Calcium Oxides to form a calcium carbonate. This allows for the absorption of CO2’s that were released into the atmosphere during manufacturing. 

What This Means for Property Owners?

What does all of this mean for someone who is looking to build a fence or a wall more sustainably? There will be less waste and resources used over time. You won’t have to repair or replace the precast concrete fence or wall as often as other fencing options. Plus, precast concrete is so strong and sturdy that maintenance is a breeze. Just a wash and annual inspection for damage are all that is required! Easier for you and better for the climate.

American Precast Concrete Inc. 

If you think that precast concrete is the right building material for your project, contact American Precast Inc. today. We will give you a free consultation and answer any remaining questions about precast concrete that you may have.