Green what?

Here’s a curious thing. There is some new charity house being erected in Blackwood (SA). It supposedly has an 8 green star rating.

All well and good, but 2 of those stars come from the use of special green star concrete.

“Green Star Concrete have supplied a number of housing projects through out Adelaide, using specialized concrete mixes containing over 55% recycled aggregates … The Green Star Building Council recognises the use of recycled aggregates in the production of concrete – plus the use of fly ash – to obtain a 2-Star Green Star rating.”

Now the use of recycled materials in the manufacture of cement, the use of fly ash (otherwise a waste product) – these are all good and noble things.

But doesn’t it seem a little odd that I can buy an existing house on a block of land, bulldoze the perfectly good but “old fashioned” house and build a “modern” house, where 55% of the concrete for the new house is recycled from the old house.

The only way to get recycled (using energy) materials is to destroy (using energy) something that already exists (has embodied energy) so we can build something new (using energy).

How is this so-called progress worthy of a star rating?

Does anybody else see a tiny contradiction in values here?

(with thanks to DB for pointing this out)


It’s a funny thing, but people often forget that the first tier of “environmentally friendly” is reuse. Recycling is a distant second place.

Comment by Jack | June 3rd, 2009 7:32 am | Permalink

I have to disagree – the original aggregate source must have been deemed of little value for it to end up in concrete. If it is in fact demolished buildings, I’d rather see this kind of recycling happen than have them all carted off to landfill and brand new concrete created.

I think there’s a LOT of reuse in Adelaide – we’ve all seen the 80-yo 4-room bungalows with the 30-yo leanto ripped off and a huge modern new extension put on the back.

Comment by Daniel | June 3rd, 2009 8:21 am | Permalink

So it’s better to buy an empty block, then build a house using reused/recycled parts from some demolished building elsewhere. That’s why salvage and restoration stores are popping up everywhere.

Comment by river | June 3rd, 2009 5:21 pm | Permalink

Hmmm . you have a point. It’s a bit like glass recycling, also uses an enormous amount of energy but better to reuse than pillage resources perhaps? From what I know, concrete sucks C02 during manufacture and recycling, the benefit being that it lasts. Once done it’s pretty much there forever. And Jack’s right, much building debris (especially concrete) is reused for things such as road base and fill.

Comment by Baino | June 4th, 2009 7:33 am | Permalink

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