Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and the Property Market Chris Agius acknowledged the necessity of concrete for development, but said that sustainable practices in the industry needed to be promoted.
Addressing the international conference, ‘Sustainable Concrete: Materials and Structures’, Mr Agius highlighted that concrete is the second-most consumed material in the world after water, used most widely in the construction industry due to its properties including its highly compressive strength among others.
He said that economic development necessitates a supporting infrastructure which can cater for the needs of present day society, and it is essential that building development, which is key to this infrastructure, is carried out with due regard to sustainability, striking a balance between environmental protection, the well-being of society, and the economy.
On a positive note, Mr Agius noted that intrinsically, concrete has a very low energy and carbon footprint when compared to most other materials used for construction. In this regard, concrete plays a crucial role and has great potential to contribute towards sustainability in construction. The use of specific waste which is recycled as aggregate, leads to lower volumes of waste disposed in landfills and - at the same time - limits the extraction of natural resources for construction and the production of aggregate.
Additionally, various waste materials and industrial by-products can be effectively used as alternative binders or as cement replacement, which leads not only to a reduction in cement consumption, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of concrete, but also in the effective reduction of waste generated by transforming it into a product, which is the case of fly ash, slag, limestone powder and other materials. Opting for waste materials eventually contributes to a more durable concrete which can withstand extreme environments.
In conclusion, Mr Agius said that this has led to the transformation of the concrete industry through the development of advanced materials and innovations in concrete engineering. Such advances help achieve higher quality in construction, which is essential for buildings and infrastructure intended to perform throughout their life cycle.