The latest newsletter from ConcreteNetwork.com, The Concrete Source: Countertops, relays “Four Ways to Go Green with Concrete Countertops.” Over the past decade, concrete has been recognized by the countertop industry for its versatility and aesthetics, but as people become increasingly aware of how they affect the environment, four other attributes of concrete countertops have surfaced.
Concrete Can Be Sustainably Mixed
While not all concrete is environmentally friendly, it can be made so depending on what is in the mix. Portland cement constitutes about 12 percent of most concrete products, and it is quite energy-intensive to produce, but it can easily be replaced with other eco-friendly waste materials, including slag cement, fly ash and silica fume.
Concrete Made From Local Materials
In the same way that buying produce from local family farms is more sustainable than buying produce shipped from out of the country, concrete made from local materials provides environmental benefits. Concrete-countertop fabricators can search for materials that originate near their shops to market products to customers who are keeping track of their carbon footprints. For example, the countertop pictured above was made with stones taken from a stream on the customer’s property.
Seal Concrete With Non-Toxic Products
Concrete countertops are porous and require sealing, but unfortunately, most sealers are solvent-based and contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can off-gas inside a home and produce toxic waste during the manufacturing process. The good news is that companies are taking steps to reduce VOCs and introduce sealers with low or no VOCs, which will not reduce indoor air quality.
Use Recycled Aggregates
The majority of concrete’s composition consists of solid particles ranging in size from fine sand to large rocks. Aggregates can be carefully selected from recycled and salvaged material to added aesthetically pleasing accents to the design. Some examples of different aggregates that can be used are discarded glass and metal, seashells and petrified wood.