The environmental impact of concrete masonry products utilized in segmental retaining walls and related sustainability issues are receiving growing attention from everyone in the industry. Due to the carbon footprint impact that the production of cement and concrete has, it is important we discuss climate change and the environment.
- Concrete is second only to water as the most consumed substance in the world. Every year, almost one ton of concrete is produced for every human on the planet.
- Producing one tonne of cement results in the emission of approximately one tonne of CO2, created by fuel combustion and the calcination of raw materials.
- Cement manufacturing is a source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for approximately 7% to 8% of CO2 globally.
- Demand for concrete worldwide is estimated to double within the next 30 years.
The cement industry has made significant progress in reducing CO2 emissions through improvements in process and efficiency, but further improvements are limited because CO2 production is inherent to the basic process of calcinating limestone. Concrete and cement producers are working together with scientists and governmental organizations on a variety of approaches to minimize this negative environmental impact.
VIEWING THE ENTIRE PROCESS
In order to identify ways of minimizing the environmental footprint of the segmental retaining walls that utilize concrete, it is necessary to look at the entire process which includes manufacturing, design, transportation and installation. Opportunities exist for improving overall sustainability along the entire chain from product manufacture to the finished project.
GOOD DESIGN BRINGS DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENTS
The simplest and often best opportunity for improvement to any manufacturing process is the quality of the initial design. CornerStone® Wall Solution’s product designs have a number of built in advantages that bring positive environmental impacts to retaining wall projects when compared to traditional solid systems still very much in use today.
The most significant design feature, present in virtually all CornerStone products is the large hollow core.
Because of their hollow cores, CornerStone® 100 and MagnumStone™ for example, can significantly reduce the environmental impacts of a retaining wall project. The size of the voids including the hollow core in a 1 sq. foot face CornerStone 100 unit is .395 ft3 and the size of the voids including the hollow core in an 8 sq. foot face MagnumStone unit is 6.35 cubic feet. When you consider that retaining wall projects can range up to 100,000 square feet, the benefits can be very significant and economical.
By having the hollow cores as part of the integral design of each unit, these products automatically bring environmental advantages in the following areas:
With a typical concrete mix design requiring 10-15% cement, less cement is needed to produce a retaining wall unit. This has the effect of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and pollution present in cement manufacture.
The amount of aggregates required as well as their transportation and storage is reduced.
TRANSPORTATION TO SALES DISTRIBUTION POINTS AND JOB SITES
Lighter unit weight can mean more face feet of wall product delivered on the same truck and/or lower fuel costs.
Lighter unit weight means quicker installation and especially in the case of MagnumStone, lighter equipment is required for installation. This also translates into reduced fuel costs and a more efficient installation process.
For more detailed information on the environmental benefits that CornerStone products can bring to your wall project, please contact us.