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The foundation is the base of all structures. Foundations are no longer just concrete; other building materials such as structural insulated panels (SIP's)and insulated concrete forms (ICF's) have been found to make a home extremely energy efficient and subsequently saving the homeowner hundreds of dollars a year on energy bills.

Alternatives to Concrete (Toolbase Technote)

Concrete is vital for the home building industry. Cement or concrete is used in almost every building project, whether new construction or remodeling. Builders are voracious consumers of concrete, using it for footings, foundation slabs, driveways, sidewalks, and even exterior walls. Now, in certain parts of the country, the availability of concrete has been significantly depleted, driving prices up and leaving builders to search for alternatives.

Nationwide, the United States imports about 22 percent (totaling about 23 million metric tons) of the 107.5 million metric tons Portland cement consumption each year. The top exporters of cement to the United States are Canada (about 25 percent), China (about 24 percent), Thailand (about 18 percent), and Greece (about 10 percent), according to the Portland Cement Association (PCA), a trade association based in Skokie, Ill. China's booming economy and its growing domestic demand for raw materials have forced it to curtail its cement exports in recent months. This, coupled with the current construction boom in the United States and overburdened shipping companies, is causing a worldwide shortage of cement, the key ingredient in the manufacture of concrete.

There are lower costing alternatives

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Flyash Concrete

Flyash is one of three general types of coal combustion byproducts (CCBP's). The use of these byproducts offers environmental advantages by diverting the material from the wastestream, reducing the energy investment in processing virgin materials, conserving virgin materials, and allaying pollution.

Although flyash offers environmental advantages, it also improves the performance and quality of concrete. Flyash affects the plastic properties of concrete by improving workability, reducing water demand, reducing segregation and bleeding, and lowering heat of hydration. Flyash increases strength, reduces permeability, reduces corrosion of reinforcing steel, increases sulphate resistance, and reduces alkali-aggregate reaction. Flyash reaches its maximum strength more slowly than concrete made with only portland cement. The techniques for working with this type of concrete are standard for the industry and will not impact the budget of a job.

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