“Concrete is the material with the proven track record to provide tried and tested – as well as innovative – solutions for sustainable housing,” says Adele de Lange, technical marketing consultant: human settlements at the Cement & Concrete Institute (C&CI).
“Over the centuries, concrete has evolved into a building material with wide ranging applications, each making a contribution in the construction industry,” she says.
De Lange suggests that a holistic design approach towards sustainable human settlements requires that the necessary infrastructure systems are put in place first. Concrete roads – whether cast in-situ or using precast paving block systems – built in conjunction with concrete retaining walls and kerbing, provide a labour-intensive solution that promotes job creation in the unskilled labour market. Concrete’s durable qualities provide a low-maintenance cost-effective solution that will contribute to sustaining service delivery in the long run. Concrete infrastructure products also include precast concrete pipes, security fencing, and lighting and telephone poles.
“Once a sustainable infrastructure is in place, it is important to ensure that houses and other buildings are constructed also to be sustainable. Once again, concrete offers a range of products suitable for various applications. In-situ concrete floors promote labour intensive applications; precast concrete flooring systems ensure uninterrupted construction programmes on fast-track projects; building walls with concrete bricks and blocks promotes job creation and skills transfer; concrete sills, lintels, window and door frames ensure durability; and colourful concrete roof tiles provide a low-maintenance and durable roof finish.”