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Build with lower CO2 emissions

A new building product for the residential housing industry is arguably one of the first construction materials to actually reduce CO2 emissions when building your new home.

GreenSlab is a new type of concrete slab that is used for the foundation of a home. Traditionally, concrete has been reinforced with welded wire mesh, however GreenSlab uses Fibre Reinforced Concrete or FRC. ReoCo Performance Fibres has been supplying this type of polyfibre to the commercial and industrial market for over 10 years however the idea of saving CO2 whilst building your home is a reasonably new concept.

greenslabReoCo is part of a group of privately-owned Australian companies called VLP Products that has served the Mining, Construction and Building community for almost 20 years. According to VLP Products Managing Director, Peter Dickson, ReoCo estimates that 1.0 to 1.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions per house slab are saved using GreenSlab.

“This estimate is dependent upon the slab design and the amount of steel that is being replaced, however we have used conservative calculations for our study and expect that this could improve with usage,” said Peter.

The polyfibre used in Greenslab is a byproduct of oil and is supplied as packaged loose fibres by the kilogram. ReoCo works with the homebuilder’s engineer to determine the appropriate amount of fibres required for a building project and supplies the appropriate quantity of polyfibre to the concrete plant for mixing and delivery to site. A standard housing ground slab requiring 50 cubic metres of concrete would use between 2 to 4 kilograms of polyfibre per cubic metre (or between 100 and 200 kilograms of polyfibre).

When designed properly, polyfibre is an effective replacement for welded wire mesh reinforcement as it is distributed throughout the concrete in three dimensions rather than two, creating better crack control. The risk of corrosion or concrete cancer is also eliminated as a cause of slab failure, as the polyfibre will not rust.

Greenslab has proven to be cost competitive with the conventionally designed mesh slab although the cost effect is dependent on the ratio of polyfibre chosen by the engineer. This design decision is similar to the engineer specifying SL72 or SL82 welded wire mesh.

Peter says that although both welded wire mesh and polyfibre are made from natural materials – steel from iron ore and polyfibres from oil – there are two factors that make polyfibre a greener choice.

“Firstly, polyfibre is more efficient than welded wire mesh in controlling cracks and can be tailored to the specific requirements of the slab. Whereas mesh can only be adjusted in larger increment by varying the diameter of the wire and how close it is welded together.”

“Secondly, the mass or weight of fibre per house slab is considerably less than the mass of welded wire mesh. Even though plastics have higher CO2 emissions per kilogram (3.09kgCO2e/kg) when compared to steel (1.1kgCO2e/kg), the total mass of polyfibre is much less than the mesh and hence produces a better CO2 emissions result,” he said.

ReoCo’s polyfibre is unique in Australia as other fibres do not have the same crack control and finishing properties. GreenSlab is a modern system of slab construction that reduces the CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere and also improves the appearance of your concrete slab for no extra cost,” added Peter.