It is hard to imagine what our built environment would be like without that most important of building materials, concrete. Unfortunately, despite its utility and strength, the production of concrete involves a tremendous amount of energy. Worse yet, most concrete removed from existing buildings during demolition ends up in landfills.
Researchers from the Univeristy of Southern Denmark have made a significant discovery: Crushed concrete binds really well to phosphorous. Why is that important?
Many fertilizers contain phosphorous, which means that a lot of stormwater runoff contains phosphorous as well. The effect of phosphorous on freshwater resources is devastating. According to PhD student and environmental engineer, Melanie Sønderup:
The water in these rainwater ponds can be very rich in phosphorus, and if it is discharged into a lake, it can lead to an increase in algae growth. This can lead to oxygen depletion and a reduction in the number of species that can live in the water. By letting the pond water pass through a filter of crushed concrete, we can remove up to 90 per cent of the phosphorous.
To learn more, read the press release at EurekAlert.
Bonus: Learn about the environmentally friendly high performance concrete used by ancient Romans.
Brian L. Hill is the CEO of BLHill Inc., a consulting firm that helps buildings and businesses achieve more from less. He is also the editor of AECforensics.com, a digital magazine that explores the trends impacting quality and risk management in the built environment. In addition, Brian is co-chair of the San Diego Green Building Council's marketing committee, and is a volunteer with the ongoing SDGBC Green Assistance Program.