Basic info is found in Chapter 6.
Concrete is produced from cement, aggregates, water, plus occasional additives. It is cast on site in shuttering or prefabricated as blocks or larger units (Figures 13.3 and 13.5). Prefabricated components are very often produced with hollow centres to reduce weight or improve thermal insulation. With few exceptions steel reinforcement is used.
Concrete's most important properties are high compressive strength, fire resistance and thermal storage capacity.
Pure concrete structures are relatively rare in early building history, when cement was used mostly as a mortar to bind bricks or stones.
Exceptions exist in the Roman Empire where the coffers in the ceiling vault of the Pantheon are cast in concrete using pumice as aggregate. In the 1930s, and again since the Second World War, the use of concrete in building became widespread. Today it is the leading building material for foundations, structural walls, roof and floor construction in larger buildings. It is also one of the main materials used in many other civil works such as dams, roads, bridges and retaining structures.
Concrete binders and, to a certain extent, reinforcements, are the constituents with the highest environmental impact. It is important to choose the most appropriate alternatives, at the same time reducing the proportion of these constituents.
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