Sustainable concrete is nonsense

 I am currently in debate with some people in the Netherlands, about materials and sustainability. It all started with a interview in the most respected newspaper in NL, the NRC, in which the former director of BREEAM NL, now project leader at “World Business Council for sustainable development” expressed that he was going to work on “sustainable concrete “ . I wrote a reply in the newspaper’s opinion section as follows:


Sustainable concrete is nonsense. As well as sustainable wood is nonsense. If by the use of wood forests disappear faster as they regrow, its unsustainable use of wood. Materials are not sustainable or not, they just are. Its the use that determines if there is a sustainable situation. In the sense that the environmental impact, which is always there , is compensated over the time of use of the original material. And concrete which has a substantial impact, is often used for purposes where a alternative material could have been used with a lower resulting impact.

The person in question also wants to start a label for concrete , I read in a earlier interview: comparable with FSC label for wood. But what would it stand for? That all material mining is compensated by restoring the material? That all energy used in production is renewable energy? Because thats what the FSC label stands for ( even with all its shortcomings) : replant the trees, and produce with solar energy….

And I ended:

A CSC, comparable with FSC is nonsense of course as well. It dangerous manipulating of the mindset around concrete . Its framing, just as with “sustainable concrete” . Anyway, dont be fooled by the upcoming WBCSD initiatives, its just ordinary lobbying and framing. “

And now I am having reactions and discussions with people in NL by mail and phone. As one says: “In general I agree, but we are improving a lot. We better name it “ more sustainable concrete”, he proposed. Huh? So, its already sustainable, and now you are going to make it even more sustainable?

Anyway, just be warned, and be critical on everything you hear and read.