Concrete is the most used human-made material on the planet – more than steel, wood, plastic and aluminum combined. The wide-spread use of concrete across the globe is due to the attributes it provides for its users. It is highly durable, and does not rust, rot or burn. It’s strength and stiffness make it suitable for the dams, bridges and the world’s tallest buildings as well as smaller structures such as hospitals, hotels and homes. It is produced from some of the most commonly available minerals and is an economical construction option virtually everywhere.

Over the past decade of green building, best practices emphasize the concept that design and development teams consider the following strategies collaboratively, with a focus on where new efficiencies can be created, materials optimized and both initial and operational costs reduced. The earlier in the design process that these strategies are evaluated collaboratively, the better.

Energy Efficiency

Today’s concrete framing systems reduce operating energy in three ways:

  • Unlike frame walls with batt insulation, insulated concrete form (ICF) and pre-cast systems employ continuous insulation from footing to parapet.
  • Monolithic concrete construction reduces number of joints and the potential for undesired air infiltration.
  • Concrete offers a unique energy-saving advantage because of its inherent thermal mass. Concrete absorbs energy slowly and holds it for much longer periods.


  • Concrete’s high albedo reduces initial construction and operational energy costs by lowering artificial lighting fixturing requirements and energy consumption as well.
  • Energy savings from effectively day-lighted spaces can reduce initial mechanical, electrical, and plumbing equipment requirements and lower operational costs over time.
  • Light-colored spaces enhance a feeling of security and comfort.


  • The greater mass of concrete walls significantly reduces sound penetration through a wall when compared with wood or steel-frame construction.
  • Monolithic site-cast reinforced concrete reduces joints and possible paths for sound transmission.

Indoor Air Quality

  • Concrete’s inorganic mineral nature contains no to negligible levels of volatile organic compounds that can degrade indoor air quality.
  • Exposed concrete walls and ceilings require no additional coatings or finishes, which can contribute to lesser indoor air quality..
  • Substantial material and maintenance savings are possible with polished concrete floors as compared to applied finishes such as carpeting or tile.

Resilience and Adaptive Reuse

  • Concrete’s inorganic makeup means it doesn’t burn or rot, nor is it a food source for mold, insects and vermin.
  • Buildings with reserve capacity are more readily adaptable to functional changes thus enhancing market value for building owners.
  • A reasonable increase in load capacity to a concrete building can be achieved with only a nominal increase in the structural cost. This economy applies to virtually all concrete floor systems.

Locally Sourced

  • Both concrete and reinforcing steel are produced at locations across the U.S. and sold locally.
  • Reduced shipping distances minimizes transportation impacts and subsequent GHG emissions. Local economies benefit from locally produced materials.