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Concrete and CO2

I was just blogging how much we like earthen floors because for one it doesn’t use CO2 producing concrete.

Then I decided to calculate how much CO2 your typical Brownstone basement would produce if you poured a concrete slab.

Answer: Almost ONE MILLION cubic feet of CO2 is let off to pour a simple brownstone basement concrete slab!

To pour a slab on a measly brownstone floor?!?!? Hey, we have to stop this act of ignorance.

Here is the math (disclaimer – I am not a genius at math):

For every tonne of concrete made there is a tonne of co2 gas put into the atmosphere.

One tonne covers 19,641 square feet of space! That is a lot of space.

Your typical brownstone basement requires cubic 16 yards of concrete if you are doing a 6″ slab.

One cubic yard of concrete will weigh 3.14 tonnes.

So…..your typical brownstone basement slab creates 3.14 tonnes x 16 yards  which is 50.24 tonnes of co2!

Multiply the tonnes of CO2 by the number of square feet in a tonne and that is an astounding 986,764 cubic feet of space.

Almost one million square feet of co2!!!

People, use earthen floors in your basement. They are just as good as concrete in so many ways and don’t create any CO2.

Here is an example of an earthen floor with a sacred design on it:

earthen floor 375x500 Concrete and CO2

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2 comments to Concrete and CO2

  • Heather Y

    Genarro, those are astounding numbers!

    When you say earthen floors, I think it is much like baked clay. Right?

    How do earthen floors, the Co2 alternative, work with respect to _drainage_ and slowing the storm water,which causes our basements and sewers to back up, especially along our city’s coastline?


  • Emily

    How exactly do you figure that earthen floors do not give off a similar amount of CO2? They consist of cob which is hay mixed with clay mud and sand and often a kind of manure like cow or horse, that then cures dry and is coated with a finer layer of plasters made up of more clay muds mixed with fine grained sands and chalks, manures and linseed oil. All of which is organic matter that off gasses CO2 during its drying process! Now, I haven’t seen the math for how much comes off your typical cob/adobe mix and the following plasters, but I can’t imagine it is much different than the sand, rock, and plasters that go into concrete. It is possible even, because of the extra plant matter and manures in earthen floor mixes that they off-gas MORE CO2! But consider this; everything that dies gives off CO2, every time a tree falls it is no longer a carbon sink but an off-gassing releaser of it’s carbon gas contents. All that hay that is harvested for our livestock is first dried, which off-gasses all it’s stored CO2. Every time there is mudslide in the world that exposes new ground off-gasses CO2, it is a constant process in nature that we have off balanced by tearing down so much of the worlds Forrest’s and overfishing the oceans so the carbon sinking algeas and planktons are mostly gone. If you really want to help the world by lowering the CO2 levels then there are a few simple but relatively major life choice changes you can make that will have a global impact. First: stop eating anything from the ocean. We all love it’s products but it is the biggest thing we damage every day, that is contributing to the Earth not being able to remove all that extra CO2 we have put in the atmosphere. From the fossil fuels used to power the ships, to the destroying of coastline habitats from the ships bringing species hitch hiking from all over the world causing the release of invasive species that wreak havoc and destroy the balance of plant and animal life, to the overfishing of so many species, which has caused a massive global decrease in the phytoplankton that are responsible for the majority of CO2 sequestering and sinking to the ocean floor to be stored there for thousands of years. So as a consumer, every time we buy a product that comes from the sea, we contribute to this global process because we put money into the pockets of companies who want to make money and don’t care about the damage they do in the process. If people stop buying stuff from the ocean, the market goes away and the ocean will recover the balance which will have a major impact on decreasing the CO2 levels in the atmosphere today. Second: try to only eat local grown produce and local raised meats. The amount of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere to get you a Tomato that was shipped to your grocery store from Mexico is staggering! You don’t even want to see the numbers from that! The government currently subsidizes American farmers who grow Wheat, Corn, Soy, and raise cattle. But there is little help for farmers who wish to raise good solid vegetables we eat everyday! Or fruits! Things that should make up the bulk of a persons meal who eats healthy. So because there is so little money in producing vegetable and fruits in this country, the majority of what we buy at the grocery store comes shipped in from other countries, who put our food stuffs on ships using gas and oil, trucks using gas and oil and they use a gas chamber of CO2 on the food to keep it fresher and help it artificially ripen along the way! So, if you support local grown produce, you cut out all that shipping that puts the scary amount of CO2 in the air, plus it is ripened naturally so it is healthier and tastes so much better! You will have to pay a little more because you are supporting a local American family who grows the produce and to make a living wage here you can’t demand that family to give you their hard efforts for a low price. It doesn’t work. Be willing to spend a little bit more money on local tomatoes and local broccoli and plan to spend less money somewhere else in your budget like on fashion, crafts, movies etc where it is more a luxury. Don’t think of paying higher prices on your good food purchases as a luxury because it is going a long way to reduce the world’s CO2 output and increase your family’s and your personal health. Third: plant something that stays alive a long time like a tree in your yard or house plants. Fruit trees are best. People have cut down so much of the worlds trees that normally hold in all that CO2 from the air that there are not enough of them to do the job needed now. Tree’s really don’t hold that much CO2 per tree. It takes a lot of them all over the place to filter out enough CO2 to make any kind of difference. So this is something everyone needs to help with. Fruit and nut trees are more carbon dense than your average birch or pine, and they give you food to eat and share. Talk to your neighbors and make a community plan to plant a couple fruit or nut trees, one per house, in your neighborhood so there is good cross pollination and mutual effort in the care of the trees. The whole neighborhood can share the products that come off of just two trees planted there! How nice would it be for your whole neighborhood to never have to buy apples from the store again? It is possible, no matter where you live, to plant two to three trees, one tree per yard only, and get enough apples to give away the extra to your whole neighborhood and everybody wins! And you might even have extra to bring to the food bank for people who don’t live in a nice neighborhood. The fruit trees that produce large sweet fruits like apples, pears, and peaches, pull tons more CO2 out of the atmosphere than a non producing tree! They also clean the air in your local neighborhood too. You will have to have a plan to deal with the pests, fun guess, and diseases that can affect fruit and nut trees. One thing you can do as a neighborhood is have people split the cost yearly of buying a live bag of beneficial bugs like ladybugs. It would cost about $30 a year total to buy the good bugs that will eat the bad bugs and they will also help all the other trees and gardens in your neighborhood too! You can use natural disease fighters when you water the trees like cinnamon powder, thyme leaves, rosemary leaves, and oregano leaves, which will help keep the diseases and funguses at bay without having to spray poisons on your trees. When farmers have rows and rows and rows of apple trees, there is no balanced nature there to fight the bugs and diseases. Having a mix of plants like you find in a forest means that there is a home for many different kinds of bugs that eat each other, so there is never too many of one kind, and the chemicals that come from each different plant’s roots and dropped leaves balances out funguses and diseases. Fruit trees also make beautiful flowers that will enrich the appearance of your neighborhood all spring and summer!
    So, to sum up all that lecturing, there are things you can do every day to make a huge global impact on reducing the world’s CO2 amount that are not terribly hard to do. Don’t worry so much about natural off gassing from products like concrete because you use it one time and it lasts a life time, but the little things you do every single day make so much more difference!

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