/Adding value to society
Adding value to society 2018-05-21T19:30:50+02:00

Adding value to society

Joining forces with progress

Homes, schools, bridges, hospitals, tunnels, reservoirs, offices, channels and canals, streets & highways, treatment plants, industrial warehouses, docks & jetties, retaining walls, parks & gardens, stadiums, etc. the list of infrastructures constructed with cement is endless. It is a product that is essential to modern societies, and one without which we would be exposed or directly prevented from carrying out our daily lives. Cement has an infinite number of applications; it is even applied to works of art.

The capacities of cement-based constructions (these being the main applications for cement) include taking on the form of the mould that contains them, their mechanical strength, their stability in fires or the soundproofing they provide, all of these being just some of the characteristics that have traditionally been greatly appreciated, together with another aspect that in recent years has become equally important. That is to say, thermal inertia, which has become increasingly well rated in terms of energy efficiency and, all in all, in terms of sustainability. The reason for this can be attributed to the fact that cement is fruit of nature, providing people with protection and security.

Contribution to the development of communications

Concrete has proved to be a vital element in the development of infrastructures, enabling us to get around obstructions and make communication easier through the construction of safer and more long-lasting highways, tunnels and bridges, thereby improving society’s quality of life.

Concrete motorways have been constructed since the second half of the 20th Century, mainly in Europe and the USA. In this sense, it must be pointed out that concrete pavements last longer, because they are the only solution that can provide a service life of over 30 years with a negligible amount of maintenance. Furthermore, concrete road surfaces minimise the fuel consumption of heavy vehicles and are the option that gives users the greatest safety, because of their slip-proof and skid-proof qualities, they are not inflammable, do not release toxic substances in the event of fire, have very light-coloured surfaces and improve road visibility. These types of road surfaces are also conducive to sustainability, in view of the fact that recycled aggregates can be used to construct them, they absorb part of the CO2 produced by the vehicles and, at the end of their working life, they can be recycled into other concrete pavements.

Moreover, an increase in tunnel construction has meant that concern for safety in fire situations has been on the increase. Concrete is extremely useful for this kind of infrastructure, because no toxic gases are released during blazes, concrete is not combustible and it retains its mechanical properties, which makes it easier for the fire brigade to evacuate people and help them.

Contribution to health

At around the beginning of the 20th Century, municipal engineers started to use drains and treatment facilities on a large scale, the use of concrete in the manufacturing process sharply reduced the mortality rate for deaths related to a lack of water quality.

Some of the infrastructures that benefitted society most and that used concrete as the principle construction material were water supply networks. This was because concrete was utilised in the building of tunnels, piping, reservoirs and pumping stations, which made it possible to collect, treat and distribute clean water to large towns and cities.

Although public water-supply systems have served communities for over 2,000 years, the idea of a formal sewerage system did not emerge in Europe until the 19th Century. Before that, wastewater was removed by using the streets and gutters as means for enabling it to flow into a nearby stream. Treatment was not an option and the urban pollution, odours and disease were the order of the day.

The growth of European cities and an increase in population density brought about health crises and communities responded by laying underground piping networks to get rid of sewage, etc. However, treatment systems were not yet a priority and untreated waste water was discharged directly into the rivers or onto the beaches.

Contribution to Safety

Mankind has built structures to minimise the consequences of sudden climate changes and natural disasters. Concrete is one of the main materials to be utilised for this purpose because it is strong durable.

For example, concrete plays a major role in holding back floodwaters and controlling their effects. It is normally used to contain, regulate and channel such waters away from housing, and likewise forms part of the structures built to withstand the effects of storms and wave action in coastal areas.

Concrete structures can slow down and arrest landslides. It can also be used to stabilise rock faces or to prevent boulders and stones from falling onto highways or pedestrian zones.

Furthermore, in the event of fire, concrete is not combustible, does not release toxic gases and retains its mechanical properties, which makes it easier for the fire brigade to evacuate people and help them. It could be said that concrete offers protection and safeguards against fire for people, property and the environment.

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