There are a variety of green concrete alternatives that can be used to build homes, roads, and other structures. These include recycled materials, fiber cement, and even hempcrete. Each of these low-carbon, renewable building materials has a number of advantages over conventional concrete.
Using recycled materials in concrete makes it more durable and reduces its carbon footprint. Plastic waste can be used to replace up to 20% of the traditional aggregate material.
In addition to reducing the CO2 output, these types of concrete can also be stronger than conventional concrete. For example, the Ferrock process uses recycled waste from the steel and glass industries. It also has a lower energy footprint, and it is five times stronger than conventional concrete.
Another sustainable alternative is papercrete. Papercrete is a new type of building material that can be made from recycled waste paper. This material is air dried, and then reused to form bricks.
CarbonCure is a Canadian company that uses captured CO2 to produce low-carbon concrete. The CarbonCure process significantly reduces the CO2 emissions from the production of concrete.
Another innovative way to decrease the carbon footprint of concrete is to replace clinker with waste byproducts. These waste byproducts have pozzolanic properties. MIT researchers have shown that these byproducts can be used as a substitute for clinker, and could allow entire urban centers to be built out of ash.
These types of green concrete solutions are not yet in widespread use, but there is research underway to explore new ways to use them. Some options include rammed earth, which is a lightweight, high-strength, and durable material.