The environmental impact of large-scale construction cannot be underestimated, from greenhouse gas emissions to water consumption, the damage takes its toll. In the past decade, the only question a developer asked was what the return on investment is.

That reckless attitude is slowly changing. Developers realize now that to sell a property they need to ensure that it meets the environmental expectations of the modern buyer. Energy ratings are now just as important as location. Nobody wants to live in a home that is inefficient with its energy consumption and at the same time harmful to the environment.

Recently, there has been good news, a new type of cement which can last up to 100 years has been discovered. Common cement is actually a dust and it dissolves like a disprin tablet when water is added, it then becomes a gel-like what you would spike your hair with. At this point, it is stronger and resistant but crystal flakes are formed. These flakes are an unwanted byproduct of traditional cement making.

By modifying the microstructure of the cement it is possible to eliminate the crystals and make it gel completely; allowing solar energy to be absorbed. This is good news for the gargantuan cement industry—global cement production in 2015 was an astounding 4 billion tons. Any road, building, highway or structure can absorb solar energy during the day and emit it during the night for around 12 hours.

The Egyptians used crude cement to build the pyramids. The Roman Empire improved it somewhat, and its modern form has been in use for 180 years. Incredibly, 2 to 4 tons of cement is produced for every person on Earth. Cement is cost-effective and plentiful. However, the environmental costs are great. It is estimated that 5 to 8 percent of the global emissions of carbon dioxide is owed to concrete production. This new type of concrete will go a long way in supporting the cement industry’s goal of reducing emissions by half.

Research has indicated that carbonated calcium silicate-based cement is more resistant to degradation from sodium chloride and magnesium chloride. Deicing salts also cause damage to roadways, repairs of which cost millions to fix, and can significantly reduce their lifespan.

Their first outing is likely to be in modest pre-cast concrete products; manufactured in a factory and transported to a construction site. More elaborate uses will take longer to iron out. The building sector is excited, this could be a game changer.

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