The most commonly accepted definition of sustainable development is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." This is the definition that CCAA adopts.
Sustainable development requires that social, environmental and economic outcomes are balanced. For example, development is not sustainable if it damages the environment, or if it results in negative social outcomes such as loss of jobs or poor health outcomes, or if it results in economic loss.
Concrete is an important contributor to sustainable development.
As the most widely used construction material, concrete is a vital part of Australia's $130 Billion building and construction industry which provides a major contribution to Australia's economic and social well being through employment, taxation and investment activities as well as providing the schools, hospitals and homes that we rely on.
Concrete, like all products has environmental impacts arising from the acquisition of raw materials, processing, transport and recycling at the end of its life. These are however significantly outweighed by the benefits that concrete delivers.
- Concrete is a high quality and affordable product that delivers high quality low cost structures.
- Concrete has low environmental impacts and can be used to reduce the overall environmental impact of a structure.
- Concretes' thermal mass can be used to increase the energy efficiency of buildings.
- Concrete buildings are long lasting and have very low maintenance requirements.
- Concrete is a flexible architectural medium and can be used in many applications for aesthetically beautiful buildings.
- Concrete buildings can be designed to be adapted and reused many times over and recycled at the end of their lives.
- Concrete does not give off harmful fumes or gasses. Concrete buildings provide improved indoor air quality as they do not require the use of finishes such as carpets on floors or paints/sealants on walls.
- Concrete is non-combustible and has excellent fire resistance properties providing protection to human life and material assets from the danger of fires.
The cement and concrete industries have responded to the challenge of further improving its environmental performance by implementing a range of measures, including:
- Minimising the amount of polluting substances emitted from manufacturing activities.
- Increasing the efficiency in the use of energy and material resources, including using by-products from other industries (such as blast furnace slag from steel production and fly ash from electricity generation).
- Maximising the use of recycled materials such as water, aggregate, alternate fuels and other cementitious materials.
- Environmental restoration after quarrying or industrial activities have ceased.