As a sustainable building material, concrete contributes toward achieving credits under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification system in both new and retrofitted commercial and residential buildings. Decorative concrete allows designers, architects, and homeowners more ways to incorporate colorful and artistic elements into endless color and design options that can also boost a building’s LEED score. Three categories where decorative concrete has a direct impact on obtaining LEED certification are the heat island effect, low-emitting adhesives and sealants, and low-emitting flooring systems.
Heat Island Effect
Heat generation and light reflectance are two of the biggest environmental pollutants with new construction. The heat island effect (thermal gradient differences between developed and undeveloped areas) is one of the measurements used to determine the effect of construction on an environment. Heat islands are reduced by using a combination of shade (manmade or trees), pervious surfaces, or reflective hardscape surfaces (driveways, parking areas, sidewalks.) with at least 50% of the hardscape surfaces providing a solar reflective index of 29 or greater. The use of standard, stamped, or pervious colored concrete in light shades can be used to meet this requirement. Light-colored microtoppings and stamped overlays can to provide a decorative finish to renovation projects.
Low-Emitting Adhesives and Sealants
Most interior concrete, decorative or plain, is sealed for protection and enhancement. In the past, concrete sealers contained large amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs.) These substances give off harmful or irritating fumes that would linger long after the construction process was complete leading to serious health risks. The new generation of architectural concrete coatings and sealants meet the low-VOC requirements of LEED (must not exceed 250 g/l of VOC.) This includes acid stains, concrete dyes, water-based tints, acrylic stains, tinted sealer systems, and the new generation of eco-friendly stains made from renewable resources such as soybean oil.
Low-Emitting Flooring Systems
Of all the LEED credits, this one allows the most impact for decorative concrete flooring systems. It focuses on complete flooring systems like carpet with new-generation adhesives, low-emitting hard flooring surfaces (including vinyl, linoleum, laminate, wood, ceramic and rubber), and concrete stain and sealer systems that meet low-VOC requirements, (rather than a single adhesive or sealant.) Decorative concrete enhanced by concrete stains and dyes provide the most color and design options of the three flooring systems and it does not require additional layers of floor covering because the concrete also functions as the flooring surface. This eliminated need for an additional layer of floor covering contributes to lower material consumption, transportation costs, and installation time and costs which can earn the building additional LEED credits.
LEED credits and certification result in energy and cost savings over the life of the structure. Whether you are interested in incorporating decorative concrete into your home or business or have questions about LEED certification, contact us today.