The next time you are in downtown Denver, take a look around. All of the concrete you see plays a large role in our carbon footprint.
What you may not know is that Denver is the first city to include the impact of making building materials into its greenhouse gas inventory.
Unlike other cities that only measure common air pollutants such as car emissions and factory emissions, Denver counts the effect of producing its building materials as well.
This has led to unique climate action policies in our city, including the use of a "green" concrete.
Dr. Anu Ramaswami and her colleagues in the University of Colorado -Denver's environmental engineering department hope the city will use the high performance green concrete in upcoming projects.
"What's new for us is to show that this material can be used in all applications, in all cities," said Ramaswami.
Fly ash, a reusable byproduct from power plants that is often thrown away, is now being used in making green concrete, to replace some of the cement. Less cement means a healthier environment.
In fact, UCD's recent project on Urban Sustainable Infrastructure reveals that, by replacing convention concrete with 20 percent fly ash concrete, the city can save carbon emissions equivalent to that of removing more than 10,000 cars from Denver roads each year.
The green concrete is tested for strength and durability to be certain it can endure Colorado's variable climate. In all areas, it has performed better than traditional materials.
"It is more green, more economical, more durable, and has higher strength," said Stephan Durham, an assistant professor at UCD.
Green concrete will also save the city money.
"Something that we would otherwise put in the landfill we are reusing in our construction, which means we don't have to buy and transport new, raw materials," said Michele Weingarden, the director of Green Print Denver. "We are going to find everywhere possible to put green concrete."
Contractors are pouring green concrete at an area that will extend 40th Avenue north of Stapleton.
"You might be seeing curb and gutter repair using green concrete as well as some street repaving projects," said Weingarden.
And that will put Denver in the national spotlight, according to UCD scientists.
"Other cities could use Denver as a stepping stone, a good stepping stone for what other cities can do to be more environmental," Durham said.
Here are some links that you can visit for more information on green concrete in Denver:
For more information on UCD's graduate research program, go to cudenver.edu/IGERT
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