Concrete panels are the most sustainable building method.
Concrete is the most appealing building material available. It is the mainstay of the construction industry because of its robustness, flexibility and other properties such as thermal, acoustic and fire retarding properties.
maintenance free structure
average annual running costs
heat recovery efficiency
reduction in waste and materials
Through life Carbon
It is true that concrete has a high amount of embodied carbon, however, did you know concrete absorbs carbon during its lifecycle? In whole-life terms, this reduces the CO2 footprint of concrete. When precast concrete reaches the end of its usable life it can easily be reused or recycled.
HexxHomes are manufactured using concrete which incorporates a recycled product to replace a large portion of the cement content used to bond the concrete. This further reduces the embodied carbon of a HexxHome and even improves its durability!
Compared with other houses the through-life carbon emissions of a HexxHome are far lower. The chart outlines the amount of embedded CO2 of a HexxHome and traditional built homes as well as the values of CO2 produced whilst living in the homes over a 60 year period.
Whilst more CO2 is used during the build process of a HexxHome, its efficiency through its working life ensures that a HexxHome produces far less Co2 compared to current UK Building Regulations:
• HexxHome Eco (ASHP, Solar, Battery Storage and MVHR): 94% less CO2 emitted then a new build in 2018 (built to 2018 building regulations).
• HexxHome Standard (Gas boiler, MVHR): 56% less CO2 emitted then a new build in 2018.
re-use and recycling
Research has proven it is most likely that a modern concrete building will outlast its initial purpose rather than the concrete degrading due to age. This is no problem for HexxHome because, unlike many other offsite housing systems, the HexxHome slabs and panels can be unbolted and reused to form new buildings. Alternatively, any concrete product can be crushed to create aggregates and recycled steel for new construction. What do you think happens to a timber frame house at the end of its useful life?
Concrete consumes waste: The concrete industry is a net consumer of waste, thereby diverting significant amounts of waste from potential landfill and reducing depletion of natural resources.
Material efficiency: Offsite concrete manufacture ensures very small quantities of waste are generated during the production process. Building of a HexxHome structure generates no onsite waste.
Local Sourced Material
Concrete is a UK locally-sourced material, compared with steel where iron ore is transported from as far away as Brazil or timber which is often shipped from Canada. In 2015 the average delivery distance for all forms of concrete in the UK was 46 km (or 28.8 miles). (Concrete Centre)
Allied to this, the manufacture of HexxHome slabs and panels can be undertaken locally to the construction site in a nearby pre-cast factory. This ensures local materials and local labour are used for HexxHome manufacture.
Ecology Biodiversity and Habitat Creation:
Encouraging biodiversity is a key part of the concrete industry’s sustainability policy. Working closely with the Nature after Minerals initiative from the RSPB and Natural England, aggregate extraction firms have helped to restore and develop numerous former extraction sites, amounting to over 6000 hectares of land restored back to nature. The map below outlines where these sites are located throughout the UK:
Gravel extraction pits are often filled in with water to create lakes and reed beds which encourages wildfowl. Sand martins, plovers, falcons and kestrels all breed successfully in quarries and pits. It has been estimated that some 700 Sites of Significant Scientific Interest were originally quarries or part of land owned by mineral operators.
In use and long-term benefits
Concrete is among the most durable of all construction materials, with numerous old buildings - including the Pantheon in Rome - providing testimony to this fact. In addition to being a tough material, appropriately specified concrete helps ensure resistance to:
■ Abrasion and impact damage
■ Insects, rodent and chemical attack
■ Water damage
Good sound insulation by walls and floors is easily achieved using the inherent mass and damping qualities of concrete. The need for additional finishes is minimal, thereby reducing capital and ongoing maintenance costs. HexxHomes are by nature quiet and relaxing environments to live in. Thanks to the concrete construction, noise and vibration from external sources is minimal and room-to-room noise is neutralised allowing each family member to relax in their own space without annoying their parent or sibling!
Airtightness refers to the measurement criteria used to assess the uncontrolled air leakage in buildings. Since the 2006 edition of Part L1A and L2A of the Building Regulations (2010 in Scotland) a limit has been set for the maximum acceptable level of air leakage in new buildings. Concrete by nature prevents air to pass through it and because of the HexxHome construction method, each house comes as standard with an airtightness (at worst) of 1 m3/hr/m2 – 10 times better than current building regulations standard).
While the high level of insulation and airtightness in new homes helps save energy during the winter, it can also increase the risk of overheating during the summer due to a greater ability to trap heat. The thermal mass provided in concrete housing helps reduce this problem by absorbing excess heat and stabilising the internal temperature. This is an increasingly useful benefit of heavyweight construction materials, since shading and ventilation alone may not be enough to avoid excessive overheating.
In the event of fire concrete performs well – both as an engineered structure, and as a material in its own right. It has the highest fire resistance classification (class AI) under EN 13501-1:2007- A1:2009.
Concrete does not burn – it cannot be set on fire and it does not emit any toxic fumes when affected by fire. Concrete is proven to have a high degree of fire resistance and, in the majority of applications, can be described as virtually fireproof.
This excellent performance is due, in the main, to concrete’s constituent materials (cement and aggregates) which, when chemically combined within concrete, form a material that is essentially inert and, importantly for fire safety design, has relatively poor thermal conductivity. It is this slow rate of conductivity (heat transfer) that enables concrete to act as an effective fire shield not only between adjacent spaces, but also to protect itself from fire damage. (Concrete Centre)
Concrete is inherently water resilient and entirely suitable in a construction designed to be either waterproof, as required for water barriers, or water resilient. The extent to which the structure keeps out water depends on the specification of the concrete itself and its design details, corner junctions for example.
HexxHomes are designed with flood resilience in mind, should your home be unfortunate to be subjected to a flood a HexxHome will come out of it relatively unscathed. In fact, if suitable flood barriers are placed around doors and windows we are confident that virtually no flood water would enter your home, saving you a lot of time and money in potential renovation time following a flood event.
Concrete has been recorded in existence as long ago as 7,000BC. Throughout history, concrete has proven itself to be a most flexible and durable construction material. Today, modern technology has led to high performance concrete with super-tensile load qualities.