Concrete manufacturers must go green

Small steps taken by the country’s leading readymix concrete manufacturers can lead to a groundswell of “green initiatives” being taken by the rest of the construction industry and so have a positive effect on the environment. So says Monty Olivier of Sustainable Green Consulting, speaking at the recent Southern Africa Readymix Association (Sarma) conference in Johannesburg recently.

He noted that even seemingly small initiatives, such as harvesting rain water, recycling paper and turning off office lights when not in use, can have an unexpectedly valuable impact on the environments – especially when multiplied by the 200 plus member organization that belong to Sarma.

In future green certification will become an increasingly important aspect of doing business with construction companies that want to follow environmentally friendly policies and Sarma has the opportunity of being among the first construction related associations to comply.

Green vs. Sustainable

“Green is really the day-to-day small things we do like switching off the light when nobody is in the room. Sustainable practices rather, are the changes in actual practices that have effects downstream in future.

“In order to go green we need to think about the small things we do; like that it takes 200 litres of water to be able to supply you with a 200ml cup of coffee. If you isolate just the water it is clear to see that just the smallest adjustments can make a big difference. Not that we should stop drinking coffee; it is simply about choosing alternatives that are less harmful to the environment,” says Monty.

Other green facts:

  • It takes 10l of water to flush a toilet
  • 3l of water to produce 500ml of bottled water

Each unit of clean drinking water undergoes a highly energy intensive process to deliver it to your tap

30% of energy produced from coal power stations is lost before it can be used

Monty added that climate change is already causing shifting weather conditions and unpredictable weather. If all companies do their bit to reduce energy consumption (and go green) it can make a massive difference in future.

Sarma is already a leader in promoting environmentally sound practices. In future, he suggests, readymix companies can play a leadership role for the rest of the economy to follow, by simply taking some simple steps to reduce their impact on the environment.

Some ideas for the concrete industry include:

  • Reducing electricity consumption
  • Promoting renewable energy
  • Embracing technology to reduce travel (teleconferencing, Skype etc)
  • Water conservation
  • Recycling

“In the meantime, readymix companies can set the ball rolling by building more energy efficient buildings, purchasing local products, supporting local communities, reducing waste and saving water,” concludes Monty.

Source: African Design Magazine 

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