Is cement construction better than wood for the environment?



  1. 0 Votes

    I would say yes. Though concrete requires carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to be fabricated, its net effect on the environment is slightly better than wood. Firstly, using wood not only removes trees from the environment, which, on a large-scale, can lead to deforestation, but also requires energy to transport and convert into lumber. Secondly, concrete is more durable than wood, leading to less waste. Wood is also prone to rotting and fires, which can release CO2 into the environment. Numerically, a 2,400 sq. ft. wooden house would require 2.3 acres of trees to construct; these trees could otherwise remove 11,818 lbs. of CO2 per year. A 2,400 sq. ft. concrete house would require 23,558 lbs. of cement to construct, releasing 11,779 lbs. of CO2 into the environment. There’s only a slight difference, but I would say concrete is a bit better.

  2. 0 Votes

    While I actually agree with everything pperlin says, here are a few devil’s advocate observations.

    Trees are renewable over time; the ingredients in concrete, while common and abundant, are not. Mining operations for concrete materials may disrupt forests anyway.

    I’m not at all certain about it but I’d guess that in situations where either wood or concrete could be used, concrete would be rather more expensive.  I also have no evidence for it, but I would also guess that while concrete construction is usually more durable, wooden equivalents often last longer while concrete construction is demolished sooner (I’m thinking of things like homes and simple buildings – wooden frame homes stand for many decades, even centuries, while “modern” concrete things are often replaced after 20 or 30 years – not because they are not durable, but because they are no longer desirable).

    So – again, agreed with pperlin. The above is offered as a thought experiment.

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