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LEADER

CONCRETE QUARTERLY SPRING 06

The appropriateness of concrete for domestic design and construction is underlined by its ability to be both innovative and traditional at the same time: innovative in terms of new design aspirations and construction techniques, and traditional in terms of its provision of inherent benefits such as thermal efficiency, fire resistance and sound insulation.

Added to these benefits is the contribution concrete can make to the sustainability of the dwelling. Not only are concrete homes thermally efficient in winter, but they also offer a significant level of cooling in the summer, thus avoiding the need for air conditioning.

Sustainability will become a major issue for domestic construction as the impact of climate change is increasingly felt. UKCIP (the UK Climate Impacts Programme) predicts summer temperatures will rise while winter storms will increase in ferocity. Concrete's inherent thermal mass will help negate the need for domestic air conditioning, keeping homes cool in the summer, thereby reducing energy use and CO 2 emissions. The material's robustness and durability will allow homes to withstand the threat of flooding and storm damage.

Another sustainability 'plus' is that concrete is sourced locally. Unlike other building materials, it is not imported from hundreds of miles away and, with increased concern over the CO 2 impacts of transportation, locally sourced materials ought to receive greater consideration.

Innovations in concrete - such as insulating concrete formwork, tunnelform, crosswall and modern masonry techniques - all mean that the benefits of concrete construction can be delivered at a pace that is faster and more efficient than ever before. Concrete is well placed to meet the demands of architects, housebuilders and, most importantly, homeowners, with homes that are secure, acoustically and structurally robust, fire proof, sustainable, and comfortable.

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