As the most used building material the world over, the manufacturing of concrete structures will have an effect on the earth. Just as processing wood, creating steel structures, and even brick would. However, there are ways to improve the sustainability of the material. Improvements all along the process can reap big benefits.
The making of cement – a big component of concrete – itself can be a laborious process. Clinker makes most of Portland cement’s makeup. It is created by heating waste materials at very high levels, creating an ashy substance. In some specific applications, fly ash can be used as a replacement.
When used with natural and raw materials and mixed with water, the resulting material is concrete. The wet concrete is then poured into forms and left to strengthen over a certain amount of time. Once concrete hardens, the pieces are ready for use in construction or buried infrastructure.
Delivery of the concrete (as well as its components) also account for emissions as part of manufacturing concrete. Cleaning machines, ejecting bad “batches”, and pouring the concrete can also lead to waste, especially during pour-in-place projects.
The lifespan of concrete is also considered for its level of eco-friendliness. If concrete is poured incorrectly, has an inaccurate mixture, or isn’t given enough time to properly harden, its usefulness is severely downgraded. This requires upgrades, repair, and even replacement in some cases.
Improving Concrete Sustainability
There are several ways of looking at improving the sustainability of concrete production, including precast concrete. Manufacturing, construction, and eventual deconstruction of the concrete all contribute to overall carbon dioxide emissions. However, there are ways to lessen the impact on the environment.
Traditionally, the mixing of the concrete takes a lot of energy. The production process may use fossil fuels and produce emissions. At Rogue Valley Precast, our plant is driven solely by solar power. More than 80 percent of our roof is covered in solar panels!
These panels power the entire manufacturing facility. But it also powers our conference rooms, lobby, bathroom, and anything else on campus. Using this kind of renewable resource is not only a great way to work “green” but we can also send it back to the grid.
Rogue Valley Precast is also able to cut down on the amount of waste that leaves the facility. Because it’s a controlled plant, we can recapture waste materials and water and recycle for later use. Less waste to the landfills and water conservation are two hallmarks of sustainability.
At Rogue Valley Precast, we look at all aspects of our operations to see how we can be environmentally sound. In fact, one of our decisions to lessen emissions has nothing to do with the manufacturing process at all. We choose our vendors based on quality as well as location.
If we can cut down the distance between deliveries, that makes for a healthier planet. In fact, one of the reasons we chose Rogue Valley was the lack of a local precaster in the area. Instead of going to Portland or Northern California, you can get your precast concrete here at home.
One of the advantages of working in a controlled environment with precast concrete is the ability to oversee the process. We monitor the mix, the pour, and the strengthening process every step of the way. Creating forms in-house also allows us to build precast products to exacting specifications.
Every product that leaves or facility will meet, or exceed, expected lifespans of the products. Our buried infrastructure products are engineered to last 100 hundred years. No other buried material can match that longevity. As products last longer, the need for more concrete is lessened.
Pour-in-place concrete is still a viable alternative. But the forms, pouring, and strengthening just can’t be monitored like precast concrete. On-site pours will certainly outlast other materials, but just can’t compete with precast structures.
Within months of opening our doors in the Rogue Valley, we earned our SMaRT Certification. Our sister site in Woodland, WA, was the first buried infrastructure plant in the U.S. to earn such a distinction. We have made it our business to become good stewards of the land.
We also produce a wide range of manholes, vault structures, precast vaults, and other precast products. We have extensive knowledge of Oregon Department of Transportation requirements and are currently under contract to provide buried infrastructure for PP&L. If you’re looking for a sustainable product, and an experienced precaster, look no further than Rogue Valley Precast.