Big Step in Building: Use Green Gravel To Make Concrete

big step gravel header photo

We go on about the problems with concrete, and how it is responsible for 5% of global Carbon dioxide production. There is a lot of research going on to deal with the carbon dioxide produced in the making of cement, which is the main problem. However there is another issue that is often overlooked- the aggregate. It is heavy stuff and moving it is costly, so quarries get dug as close to the users in the City as possible.

In Ontario, Canada the aggregate industry gets a free pass, even in the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Preserve. Sarah Harmer and Bruce Cockburn put on a concert this weekend to raise money to stop further destruction of the escarpment by the aggregate industry.

sarah harmer poster image

But according to John Barber in the Globe and Mail,

Provincial policy gives the industry "preferential access" to even the most well-protected conservation lands, according to Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, an official government watchdog and critic of its laissez-faire attitude toward the aggregate-industry. "All of the applications to quarry the Niagara Escarpment, which is historically our most sensitive and regulated land area, have eventually gone to a 'yes' over the years," he says.

The process to approve new sites is cumbersome but only produces one result, according to the commissioner. "You enter into it and it moves toward a 'yes,' " he says.

The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is trying to do for aggregate what the Forestry Stewardship Council did for wood: create a label that ensures purchasers of aggregate that it was not dug up from protected lands and conservation areas.

"It's high time the aggregate industry was held to a higher standard," says Rick Smith of Environmental Defence. "The gravel industry does not seem to have a compromising bone in its body."

concrete co2 production image

From Building Green

Of course the aggregate industry calls green gravel "NIMBY by another name" and claims "Gravel is already green." Right. Just like concrete. more from ::John Barber
Big Step in Building:
Demand more recycled concrete and other materials in your concrete. Ask where the aggregate comes from. And let's stop letting the industry keep calling concrete green, it isn't.

More on Sarah Harmer fighting for the Escarpment:
Sarah Harmer Dethrones the Gravel Kings
Sarah Harmer on protecting the Environment
Sing for the Environment
More Concrete in TreeHugger:
Concrete: Can it be Green?
Gigacrete: An Alternative to Concrete
Gigacrete: An Alternative to Concrete">Building Green on Concrete

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