- What is green building, and why does it matter?
- Some sobering statistics
- Why Concrete Is a Sustainable Choice
- What makes concrete a sustainable building material?
- Why concrete is a healthy alternative
- How decorative concrete qualifies for LEED credits
- How to Use Concrete to Build a Sustainable Home
- Green ideas for exterior concrete
- Green concrete floors
- Green concrete countertops
- Action steps for building a sustainable home
- Do sustainable homes cost more?
- National guidelines for building green homes
- Concrete home project profiles
- Urbanite: Repurposing Old Concrete
- Related Information:
- Making concrete greener: Ten easy steps to greener concrete production
- Optimizing the energy efficiency of an ICF Home: A mechanical engineer gives his top 10 strategies
- Video: Green building and concrete countertops
- Concrete Countertops Central to Eco-Kitchen Design as featured in the Wall St. Journal
- Why decorative concrete delivers great value
- Environmental benefits of pervious concrete pavements
- Green building properties and LEED point contribution of Reward Walls iForm
Why Concrete Is a Healthy Alternative
Clean environments, free of dust, mildew and other
pollutants can be achieved with interior concrete floors.
Photo Courtesy of the Decorative Concrete Institute.
On average, we spend 90% of our time indoors—and most of that time we are in our own homes, according to Angela Dean, author of Green By Design. Yet, we are increasingly using products containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), in some cases creating indoor air quality that is 20 to 30 times more toxic than outdoor air, she warns.
The Healthy House Institute reports that indoor air pollution is the cause of about 50% of illnesses. Common sources of this pollution include outgassing from toxic paints and finishes, carpeting, manufactured wood products containing glues high in formaldehyde, dust mites, mold spores, mildew, and some cleaning products.
When it comes to poor indoor air quality, carpeting is one of the worst offenders. New synthetic carpeting can outgas over 100 different VOCs. And whether made of synthetic or natural materials, carpet is difficult to clean and becomes a haven for dust particles, pollutants, and bacterial growth. Tens of millions of microorganisms can be found in a square foot of carpeting. Carpet can also be a major source of mold, especially if it becomes wet and the water isn't removed completely.
Concrete floors, stained with nontoxic pigments, are a healthier alternative to carpeting because they do not emit harmful VOCs and are easy to sweep clean. In fact, VOC emissions from concrete building products are much lower than those for most other building materials, according to PCA. The use of natural lime-cement plaster wall finishes and concrete countertops can also significantly reduce total VOC concentrations inside a home.
Exposure to toxic mold in homes and buildings has been blamed for ailments ranging from headaches to severe respiratory infections and immune system disorders. Mold can thrive on any organic material, especially in warm, moist, humid conditions. In addition to carpeting, mold can feed on drywall and wood studs, joists, and wall sheathing. Concrete floors and walls won't support the growth of toxic mold.