Problem Building Materials

February 5, 2009 at 10:23 pm 2 comments

There has been a lot of talk about green building materials and I am all in favor of them, but the truth of the matter is that most buildings go on using the same old non-green stuff.

The most popular of the non-green materials has to be concrete, not only because of its energy costs to produce but also its overwhelming popularity.  In an article on ( is a detailed and well thought out discussion of the subject and one I agree with. Unfortunately the truth is until someone comes up with something just as durable and with a similar cost I don’t see it going away anytime soon.

Excerpt: “Concrete’s impact on the environment starts when limestone is blasted in quarries to make cement – the binder, or substance that sets and hardens it into a useful building material. Cement accounts for 7 to 15% of concrete’s total mass by weight and is made by superheating (in coal-fired kilns) a mixture of limestone and clay and then grinding the resulting substance into a powder. When this power mixes with water, it forms strong calcium-silicate-hydrate bonds that can bind other particulates, like sand or gravel, to make concrete. The cement-to-water ratio determines the strength of the concrete.

The other material on the agenda tonight is granite, you know that stuff you put in your kitchen, on the counters.  There are a couple of articles again raising the possibility that your counter tops are emitting unhealthy amounts of radiation or radon gas.  The first article is on ( and is contributed by an industrial hygienist who makes a good point about how the granite retailers pretty much have their heads in the sand over this issue.

The other article is on ( and is much less inflammatory and very factual.  In fact most studies and articles I have read state that the problem is confined to only certain types of this stone and is very rare ( or (  In both NY Times article and the university study there is really no cause for alarm. (Disclosure: I have granite counter tops in my kitchen and granite around a fireplace so I have done more than a little checking into this)

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Entry filed under: Design, Environment. Tags: .

Green Building Standard Approved Green Technology Knockoffs?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rachael  |  February 6, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Thanks for the link… discussions of green building materials are interesting, but often rife with unsubstantiated claims.

    I’ll digg this as well.


  • 2. Dallas Granite Company  |  December 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    I have noticed that most home owners would want to have “Granite” instal in their kitchen, but some how assume “Granite” is costly without even checking with local companies. If you know of a great idea to break this view please let me know.


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