The production of concrete is a complex process that releases carbon dioxide into the environment.
The process of producing cement — that integral ingredient that binds concrete together — results in nearly 5% of the world’s man-made carbon dioxide emissions, behind in volume only to transportation and electrical generation.
One reason for the level of emissions is the enduring popularity of concrete — concrete produces a lot of carbon dioxide because the world produces a lot of concrete.
To help offset the impact of concrete on the environment, we here at Custom Concrete have committed to planting one tree for every cubic yard of concrete we pour. We have partnered with One Tree Planted to help offset our contributions to climate change to plant big, beautiful trees in locations throughout the Pacific Northwest and around the world.
In January, Custom Concrete Contracting poured 303.5 cubic yards of concrete in Whatcom and Skagit counties, which means we worked with One Tree Planted to get 304 new trees into the ground. Those trees benefited the Protect the Orca program, which plants trees throughout the Pacific Northwest to help with salmon habitat. We hope that, over time, those trees will help boost Chinook salmon numbers, which will in turn help the endangered southern resident orcas. In February, we donated 102 trees to Colorado to help them rebuild from the devastating wildfires of this past year. Colorado provides drinking water to 19 U.S. states and Mexico.
We are excited to be helping people and the environment in this fashion.
By the way, we don’t mean to imply that concrete is all bad. In fact, the very nature of concrete leads to some environmental benefits, too. Concrete is versatile, durable and easy to make, cementing (pun intended) its important role in construction.
Here’s how concrete can be good for the environment:
Concrete is incredibly durable, lessening its impact over time. Driveways and foundations made from concrete can last 100 years, spreading the environmental cost of concrete production over many years. Transportation and energy generation, on the other hand, are continually adding to greenhouse gas levels. According to the website Rediscover Concrete, concrete has the lowest carbon footprint of any structure or pavement over its lifecycle.
Concrete reduces energy costs by storing and releasing energy. Over at Western Washington University, concrete has been a specific component of LEED-focused projects for its ability to store thermal energy during the day and release it slowly at night, reducing heating costs — up to 8% over the building’s lifetime, according to research.
Concrete is resource-efficient. The main components of concrete — limestone, sand and gravel — can be found in large quantities around the globe. And while the harvesting of trees for lumber removes carbon dioxide absorption from the planet until new trees can be grown, that is not the case with concrete.
To learn more about Custom Concrete Contracting’s sustainability efforts, visit https://www.customconcrete.biz/sustainability/. And for more on One Tree Planted, visit the organization’s website at https://onetreeplanted.org/. One Tree Planted is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit on a mission to make it simple for anyone to help the environment by planting trees. The organization’s projects span the globe and are done in partnership with local communities and knowledgeable experts to create an impact for nature, people and wildlife.