The pursuit of ‘green’ buildings that will preserve the environment may possibly veer off in an unpredictable direction that will change the face of America's housing. Contradictory though it may sound, concrete is raising its ugly head as an attractive and ‘green’ alternative for residential housing.
Although concrete has been used in European homes for over fifty years, it has not been in any way popular in U. S. A. If the thought of gray concrete homes in small town America is abhorrent to you - think again.
One of the European countries that make the largest proportion of concrete houses is France. Yes, that includes those cute little homes in the villages of Provence that people drive for miles to see! Underneath the sunny yellow paint on the exterior ‘stone’ finish and the brilliant blue shutters framing the tiny windows - is blah gray concrete.
What's more, inside the cool cottages where the interior walls are painted cream and edged with dark woodwork for relief is also blah gray concrete! So what's the problem?
Change is always resisted by the majority, but concrete is gaining ground in developments around USA. This is because concrete has re-invented itself into the environmentally acceptable AAC. It is also known as E-Crete, but AAC - short for Autoclaved Aerated Concrete - can produce a home that is fireproof and whose construction is 80% air!
Buildings made from AAC will not rust, decompose, warp or rot and this makes them very low maintenance. Concrete does not offer the type of environment that encourages little critters such as termites; it also cannot be chewed through by mice etc, which are two more points in its favor.
Concrete walls do not give off toxic gasses and neither will home owners experience ‘cold spots’ in their rooms. This can be attributed to the unique design of the blocks which means that an AAC home comes with its own insulation against both the summer heat and the winter cold.
AAC offers better acoustics than a normal wooden home, in that it reduces the traveling of mechanical noises, decreases the penetrating ability of outside noises and does away with the echoing sound of an empty room. Or, in a nutshell, it is a quieter life inside!
For those who are interested in the environmental ethics of it all - AAC is made from adding a naturally occurring expansion agent to natural cement and sand which produces air bubbles within - rather like making concrete bread! It means all the trees can stay in the forest.
The Autoclaved Aerated Concrete Products Association (AACPA) boast that a minute amount of energy is needed to produce this organic product and the process of manufacturing produces no pollutants, by-products or toxic waste.
Hey! Move over log cabins and watch out America - it sounds too good to be ignored!
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