Expert cautions building industry against using cement

Expert cautions building industry against using cement
Published: 30 August 2006

The Malaysian construction industry must come up with a ‘greener’ alternative for cement because producing a tonne of cement causes an equal tonnage of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere.  This in turn results in a sharp rise in greenhouse gas emission, said an engineering expert from Curtin University of Technology.

Dr Djwantoro Hardjito, who heads Curtin’s school of engineering and science, said the figure is alarming considering the fact that the production of cement worldwide increased at a hectic pace every year due to the ever increasing demand by those in the construction sectors. “Due to these environmental concerns, there is an urgent need to produce ‘greener’ materials for use in the construction industry,” he said at the 20th Eastern Region Organisation for Planning and Housing (EAROPH) world congress held in Malaysia which ended recently.

“One strategy to make concrete ‘greener’ is to utilize fly ash - the by-product derived from burning coal in power stations. Fly ash is available abundantly worldwide but its utilization is still very low. However, there must be proper plan to use fly ash or else it would potentially cause harm to the natural environment as well,” he stressed.

Another speaker, Diana Gibson, who is acting manager for Strategy and Regional Programmes Victoria, Australia, said in her working paper the world needs to shift focus from merely managing wastes to finding sustainable use of resources and recovery of these resources. Citing Victoria as an example, she noted that Victoria produces 8Mt of wastes annually.  “While Victoria leads in Australia in recycling with a recycling rate of 53 percent of its wastes, to curb the growth in waste generated is a major challenge. “Despite having an excellent record for recycling, Victoria is still one of Australia’s largest contributor of solid wastes,” she said.