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When It Rains, It Drains

October 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

westmont1By Matt Baker

Our infrastructure relies on asphalt and concrete. Few materials can hold up as long as they do and none as cheaply. They are so durable in part because of their impregnability, a strength that unfortunately creates a problem.

These impervious surfaces direct rain into the sewer system; during heavy storm events, the sewers are often overburdened and the contents—now stormwater mixed with effluent—often discharge back into streams, rivers and lakes. This poor handling of stormwater also exacerbates flooding and soil erosion.

So how do you fix the flaws of an impenetrable material? Poke some holes in it.
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Can Concrete Be Sustainable?

June 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

By Matt Baker

concrete_1Concrete, industry proponents will tell you, is one of the most sustainable building materials on the market. It is incredibly durable, made from abundant materials, has a low thermal transmittance and it is recyclable. All of these are true. Unfortunately, it is also an enormous source of carbon dioxide emissions.

Cement, to be precise, is the real culprit. Portland cement typically composes a little more than 10% of concrete’s volume, but 90% of its carbon footprint. Given how ubiquitous concrete is as a building material, something needs to be done to lower these emissions.
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