Living up to its eco-theme name, Ekocrete, a new concrete mix, is made from 85 percent recycled concrete.
The material has crushed recycled concrete for aggregate and fly ash waste from coal mills for the base. Other industrial byproducts provide nanofibers for crack reduction and nanoparticles for surface density to reduce water penetration.
Chief among Ekocrete’s benefits is that it offers an alternative to portland cement. “The cement industry is really not being honest about the negatives of cement production,” says Jim Glessner, president of Ekocrete Inc. “And we are running out of raw aggregate. We’re trying to eliminate both of those problems.”
Ekocrete was created after Glessner and his friends in the concrete industry began talking about how large companies were pushing green products that are in fact not eco-friendly. Together they decided to develop a concrete product that was actually green.
“What we are trying to do is reduce as much as possible the amount of cement,” Glessner says. “We are working with a company in the Bay Area that is developing a cement process that doesn’t have any carbon dioxide emission.”
Although fly ash is used in lieu of portland cement, Glessner assures Ekocrete performs the same as its traditional competition. “There’s not a single caveat with decorative concrete,” he says. “There is no character change.”
Decorative concrete contractors should note one exception to that rule: Glessner says that because Ekocrete contains so much fly ash, its color is slightly darker than concrete with traditional portland cement.
The first commercial project using Ekocrete is a recently completed building in Berkeley, Calif. Rachel Hamilton of Hamilton & Company Architecture was considering using conventional concrete, but was sold on Ekocrete after talking to Glessner. “We were trying to go with as green of a product as we could, throughout everything we were doing,” she says.
Although it’s still too early to tell, so far Hamilton is very happy with the results.
Ekocrete is currently available as a ready-mix product, and a bag mix sold as Ekocrete by Buddy Rhodes will enter the market in Spring 2009, starting in California. However, the bag mix will only be sold as a high-strength or fence-post mix. The ready-mix version offers compressive strengths ranging from 2,000 psi to 10,000 psi.
Although green products typically come with a large markup, Glessner says Ekocrete will be priced at only 5 to 10 percent more than traditional cement.
“We don’t want to make this huge margin,” he says. “Ultimately I’m in it to do something great for the world.”