This is a guest post, courtesy of Matt Doyle, Vice-President and Co-Founder of Excel Builders.
Efficiency and sustainability have become the driving force behind many of today’s popular home building trends. There are many reasons for this: more efficient homes can be cheaper to build, longer lasting, more affordable for homeowners, and better for the environment. This is why concrete has become one of the most commonly used building materials for efficient homes. Concrete is highly sustainable, durable, and allows for very energy-efficient construction. Let’s look into concrete as a home building material in depth.
First and foremost, homes built with concrete can allow for extreme energy efficiency. They are more solid, with fewer holes and cracks for air or water to get through, meaning the home requires less energy to stay warm or cool. And due to its thermal mass, concrete can reflect heat. During the hottest parts of summer, concrete shields the interior of the home from the worst of the heat. Concrete also absorbs and retains heat very effectively within the home, improving heating efficiency during cold winters.
This is especially true of homes that use Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), which have additional insulation. ICF walls and foundations require even less energy to stay warm or cool. Homeowners see smaller energy bills and they can invest in smaller, more efficient HVAC systems. This also places less of a burden on power grids.
When it comes to sustainable resources, wood is commonly considered a great material because it is easy to grow more trees for lumber. However, concrete is highly sustainable as a building material for many reasons:
- Reduced waste: it can be produced as needed at the building site, so builders can make exactly as much as they need to save on waste and the extra costs associated with loose ends
- Recyclable material: old concrete can be recycled and used when building features for the home, like driveways and patios, or as material for new concrete
- Abundant resources: it uses limestone which is one of the most common and sustainable minerals on Earth
- Recycled byproducts: commonly mixed with industrial byproducts, concrete recycles them and further reduces waste
For builders, this allows for more efficient and sustainable projects that help them save on current and future costs. Those savings can then pass on to owners when the homes sell.
The other advantage of concrete is its durability. Unlike wood, concrete does not rot, burn, or enable the growth of mildew; and unlike steel or other metals, it does not rust or melt. Here are other ways that concrete offers benefits through durability:
- Air quality: being so solid, concrete prevents pollen, dust, and other air pollution from entering the home
- Moisture resistance: concrete homes are less prone to moisture damage from rain and high humidity
- Sun resistance: concrete is less prone to fading, wear, and damage from ultraviolet solar radiation
- Vermin resistance: concrete homes are better able to keep out insects and other vermin, and don’t provide them with any nutrition
- Structurally sound: the integrity and durability of concrete makes it better able to withstand earthquakes and severe storms
The durability of concrete improves the benefits of its sustainability and energy efficiency. It can hold up against common sources of wear and damage, so it maintains its efficiency for longer than homes built from less durable material. Furthermore, it uses far less material over a home’s lifespan because it doesn’t need to be replaced or repaired as often.
Matt Doyle is the Vice-President and Co-Founder of Excel Builders, a custom home building company serving Delaware and Maryland. The company specializes in ICF and custom-built, energy-efficient homes. Matt grew up in the construction industry and he has a Bachelor of Science degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of Alabama. He also has an extensive background in internet marketing and has worked with some well-known international companies such as Best Western, McGraw Hill Construction, Sharp, and Canon.