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Environmental assessment of green concretes for structural use

ABSTRACT

This paper presents a comparative environmental assessment of several different green concrete mixes for structural use. Four green concrete mixes were compared with a conventional concrete mix: recycled aggregate concrete with a cement binder, high-volume fly ash concrete with natural and recycled aggregates, and alkali activated fly ash concrete with natural aggregates. All five concrete mixes were designed and experimentally verified to have equal compressive strength and workability. An attributional life cycle assessment, based on the scenario which included construction practice, transport distances, and materials available in Serbia, was performed. When treating fly ash impacts, three allocation procedures were compared: ‘no allocation’, economic, and mass allocation, with mass allocation giving unreasonably high impacts of fly ash. Normalization and aggregation of indicators was performed and the impact of each concrete mix was expressed through a global sustainability indicator. A sensitivity analysis was also performed to evaluate the influence of possibly different carbonation resistance and long-term deformational behavior on the functional unit. In this specific case study, regardless of the choice of the functional unit, the best overall environmental performance was shown by the alkali activated fly ash concrete mix with natural aggregates and the high-volume fly ash recycled aggregate concrete mix. The worst performance was shown by the recycled aggregate concrete mix with a cement binder.

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