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Concrete Alternatives in Building Construction

Concrete serves as the actual and figurative solid foundation of our cities today, supporting everything from buildings to bridges, apartments, and ducts. The industrial revolution’s enormous urban migration created a pressing demand for more efficient and long-lasting construction techniques. Ultimately, steel and concrete took over as the most popular building materials, producing roughly 10 billion tonnes annually.

Concrete is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, which is bad news for the climate despite its resilience, adaptability, and undeniable presence in our environment. Utilizing greener alternatives to concrete could help the construction industry make up to nature for the long overdue debt it owes her. 

This blog discusses various alternatives to concrete that outperform it in terms of sustainability and can provide a different, less harmful solution.


Cement production, a necessary component of concrete, may be held accountable for CO2 emissions both directly from the production of the material and indirectly from the combustion of fossil fuels. Concrete may become a far more sustainable material if cement is replaced with another substance. A by-product of burning coal called fly ash is typically dumped in landfills. Ashcrete is a greener alternative to concrete that substitutes around 97% of its elements with recycled material, therefore abandoning the usage of regular cement. It not only reduces costs but also provides greater strength and durability when compared to traditional concrete. Fly ash also improves concrete’s resistance to alkali-silica reactions and decreases its permeability and shrinkage. Ashcrete has a wide range of applications and can be used in bridges, pavements, embankments, roads, and buildings.

Recycled Plastic:

Plastic is the most concerned material that significantly impacts the environment as they are non-biodegradable. It is vital to note that just 9% of the total plastic generated may be recycled. Such advances recommend using recyclable plastic in the façade of houses or other structures. Using recycled plastic in construction is a great way to achieve fewer greenhouse gases effect while unclogging plastic-filled landfills. Concrete blocks filled with recycled plastic are substantially lighter than normal concrete blocks and can replace 20% of the aggregate in concrete. It is advised to use these blocks for small-scale construction; however, larger projects should not use them. Recycled plastic can be used as a substitute for concrete since it is extremely adaptable and can withstand impact, water, and chemical exposure. The cost of producing concrete from recycled plastic is lower, and the material has good thermal and electrical insulating qualities. While the low melting point of plastic is a drawback.


A renewable resource that grows quickly is the hemp plant. It grows in approximately four months, unlike forests, can be harvested indefinitely, and requires little to no water, pesticides, or fuel. A relatively recent and biodegradable concrete substitute is hempcrete. Lime and water combined with hemp fibres produce a substance that resembles concrete but is lighter and tougher. Lime emits around 80% less carbon than conventional cement, so Hempcrete may be said to test carbon-negative. The structure benefits from its inherent flexibility and insulation. Because it takes so long to cure, one disadvantage of this material is that it cannot be utilised in load-bearing walls. However, more recent developments have produced hempcrete blocks that can be used as building bricks.

The walls are given a certain natural texture by hemp, which can be emphasised as an architectural feature.

Ferrock- Steel Dust:  

The building blocks used in Ferrock, a steel-dust form of concrete, is made from recycled materials leftover from the steel and glass industries. Because it is five times stronger than regular concrete and can bear more compression before breaking, it has the ability to withstand earth movements brought on by industrial activity or earthquakes. So what else is in store for this content? Compared to cement, ferrock has a higher and greener benefit aside from converting tonnes of waste steel dust into valuable material. It is a carbon-negative substance because it absorbs and traps a significant amount of carbon dioxide as it hardens, making it necessary.

Green Concrete:

Green concrete is environmentally friendly concrete that has been made with various waste materials or any other leftover resources from various businesses.

When compared to producing ordinary concrete, green concrete uses less energy during production. It is a cost-effective and long-lasting concrete substitute with relatively low carbon emissions. Using concrete substitutes such as ashcrete and green concrete, among others, aims to shift reliance from natural resources to recyclable materials. By doing this, excellent sustainability and eco-friendly concrete would be achieved.


Papercrete is a recycled version of concrete that is used as an aggregate in regular concrete. Papercrete partially substitutes for cement in the concrete mix. Yet, a tiny amount of papercrete is sufficient to counteract some negative impacts during the manufacturing of concrete. Papercrete is regarded as one of the less expensive or more affordable concrete substitutes. This concrete substitute material is sufficiently workable and may be shaped into various shapes. Papercrete produces lightweight concrete bricks. There are some drawbacks to papercrete in addition to its benefits. Paper has lower damp resistance and lower compressive strength than conventional concrete.

Blast Furnace Slag:

An environmentally friendly material that has a lower greenhouse gas impact than concrete is blast boiler slag, a byproduct produced and used in construction.

This blast boiler slag is created when molten iron slag from the blast boiler is quenched in steam or water, resulting in a glassy granular substance. The strength and durability of concrete can be increased by replacing 70–80% of the cement with this concrete substitute. The production process produces less heat or moisture during the blast boiler slag.

Micro Silica:

Micro silica is a by-product of the manufacturing of silicon, ferrosilicon alloys, and silicon as well as the condensation of silicon dioxide, which is a very tiny powder. Silica fumes are another name for micro silica. Micro silica has a significant benefit in that it makes concrete less porous and increases its compressive strength, both of which boost concrete longevity. When compared to conventional concrete, this form of concrete alternative is most frequently used in constructions that are exposed to hard conditions, such as exposure to chemicals. This type of concrete is less detrimental to the environment, making it an eco-friendly material.


In many nations, bamboo has taken the role of steel, and contemporary innovation has given rise to fresh suggestions for concrete substitutes. Because of its tensile strength, low weight, and quick rate of growth, bamboo is regarded as one of the greatest concrete substitutes.  Due to its availability locally and low cost in comparison to other building materials, bamboo is primarily used to frame buildings and shelters.


Compared to more commercial building materials like concrete or steel, plain old wood continues to have a number of advantages. In addition to absorbing CO2 as they grow, trees can also be processed into building materials using significantly less energy. In addition to being renewable, well-managed woods may guarantee a biodiverse ecosystem.

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