Concrete Ambitions Blog

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The Advantage of Using Pervious Concrete in Sustainable Building

Saving the world from all sorts of destruction is the subject of every modern construction nowadays. There are different companies and manufacturers who are continuously doing their best in order to develop and offer products such as pervious concrete that can be helpful in preserving what remains in the nature. Every single action that you take in order to save Mother Nature counts!

Sustainable building is one of the trends in the world of construction. It is the newest building strategy that allows nature to be preserved and breathe. The green materials being used in the construction of buildings are nature friendly. When this strategy was born, the use of pervious concrete (porous concrete) that drains quickly was also introduced. Just like sustainable building, the creation of pervious concrete pavements can also be beneficial to the nature. Below, you will find the different advantages of the two methods given above.

Helps Conserve Water through Recycling

Pervious concrete made up of small particles, water, a little sand, and a cement paste that binds the particles together, rendering it permeable can help conserve water by recycling rain and wastewater. This type of concrete that can be used in creating pavements, pathways, roads and other structures allows water to run back to the soil. Recycling rainwater and greywater used by people every day will help return the natural cycle of water keeping things ‘green’ and mother nature happier! This also works with the use of sustainable building. The use of green building for pavements gives way for the rainwater to go directly to the soil, and as the soil absorbs water, preservation will begin to take place.

Helps Neutralize Heat

In a highly urbanized city, you will notice that the heat is sometimes unbearable. If you are going to compare it to places where there is little development, you will notice the difference in the temperature. The buildings and asphalt used in roads can explain this discrepancy in the temperature. If the government and builders used pervious concrete in creating pavements and some roads, the built up heat would be more neutralized. The materials used in building modern structures and roads are the ones that are contributing to the heat. If we were just responsible enough to eliminate these things from everyday constructions, it would be easier to live enjoying the best of nature.

Helps Eliminate Flooding

Aside from the heat and pollution, so much water caused by heavy rainfall can result in flooding. The roads become flooded when there are clogging in the drainage systems. If we were to use pervious concrete for roads instead of asphalts, it would be easier for the water to drain and become part of the soil again without the use of drainages and other streams for collection of large amounts of water.

Nature conservation starts when people finally learn to appreciate the importance of different products that are made to save the world from pollution and other factors that can kill nature. So, make an effort and commitment and help things change by using pervious concrete and go ‘green’ when building.


2014-02-04T20:45:15+00:00 By |Decorative Concrete Articles|

What’s a LEED Point?

As we become more aware of our environmental impact on planet earth, we are coming into contact with more and more clients and peers who are inquiring about “green” building and LEED points.  We have included this informative article about the subject to help people better understand what LEED points are and how they can get involved in “green” building.

LEED™ Green Building Rating System 2009 Explained The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating system was originally developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) to provide a recognized standard for the construction industry to assess the environmental sustainability of building designs. Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) has since adapted the USGBC LEED rating system to the specific concerns and requirements of buildings in Canada.

LEED is a point-based rating system; points are earned for building attributes considered environmentally beneficial. LEED differs from other rating systems in that it has quantified most of the “green credits.” For example, 10% of the building materials must contain recycled content to achieve the recycled content credit.

LEED has 110 points covering seven topic areas. Each topic area has a statement of associated goals.

Site Development: minimize storm water run-off, encourage car pooling and bicycling, increase urban density and green space Water Efficiency: eliminate site irrigation, reduce water consumption, minimize or treat wastewater Energy Efficiency: reduce building energy consumption, use renewable energy, eliminate ozone-depleting chemicals, commission building systems Material Selection: minimize construction waste, re-use existing building façade, use locally recycled and salvaged materials, use renewable construction materials Indoor Environmental Quality: incorporate daylighting, use low off-emitting materials, provide operable windows and occupant control of work space, improve delivery of ventilation air Innovation in Design: use a LEED Accredited Professional, greatly exceed the requirements of a credit, incorporate innovative environmental features not covered in other areas, develop a green education plan. Regional Priority: target issues of environmental importance based on geographical locations as well as designing and constructing more durable buildings

Designers can pick and choose the credits most appropriate to their project to achieve a rating. LEED has four performance ratings:

40 to 49 points: Certified 50 to 59 points: Silver
60 to 79 points: Gold 80 or more points: Platinum

In addition to different levels of achievement, there are different types of certification. Besides the traditional LEED-NC (New Construction), there is LEED-EBOM (Existing Buildings), LEED-ND (Neighbourhood Development), LEED-CI (Commercial Interiors), LEED-CS (Core and Shell), and LEED for Homes.

The LEED system can be used in three ways to improve the “green-ness” of a building design: LEED can serve as a design guide for the design team. The LEED credit system is a systematic way of ensuring that the most important environmental issues are considered during the design of a building.

LEED reports are a valuable means of showing the client and other interested parties that the design has effectively addressed environmental issues. A building design can be certified by the USGBC or CaGBC.

Certification provides increased market exposure and places the building in elite company among the greenest buildings in North America. LEED registration fees can cost as little as 54 cents a square foot. In addition, LEED requires calculations and documentation to validate each credit claimed.

LEED is the most recognized green building rating system in North America. There are over 2,000 buildings that have been registered with the CaGBC. Many developers, particularly those working on federal government and leading-edge private sector buildigs, are requiring that building designs meet LEED Silver performance. Given that conventional new buildings would likely score only a few LEED points, achievement of any LEED level represents a significant reduction in building environmental impact and improvement of indoor environment. The Canadian version of LEED is similar to the US version with the exception that energy efficiency is relative to the Canadian Model Energy Code for Buildings.

The larger benefit of LEED buildings is an improved indoor environment (lower absenteeism, greater productivity, better thermal comfort), lower maintenance costs (commissioned building, more durable materials, smaller or eliminated building systems), higher corporate profile (increased product sales, marketing advantage, improved employee morale), and reduced risk of remedial measures (to deal with sick building syndrome or environmental contaminants). The table below summarizes typical costs and payback periods for LEED buildings. The payback includes only annual utility energy savings.

LEED Rating   Certified   Silver   Gold   Platinum  
Energy Savings 25 to 35% 35 to 50% 50 to 60% >60%
Annual Utility Savings $0.75/ft2 $1.00/ft2 $1.25/ft2 $1.50/ft2
Typical Payback Under 3 yrs 3-5 yrs 5-10 yrs 10+ years
Incremental Construction Cost
Small Buildings 3% 7% 10% 15%
Large Buildings 1% 3% 5% 8%


This article was taken from the Enermodal Engineering website, a company based in Canada who specializes in green building and LEED points.  We have no affiliation with this company but have found this article to cut right to the heart of a very complex and sometimes overwhelming subject.

2013-12-18T18:14:27+00:00 By |Decorative Concrete Articles|

Deicers, Concrete and the Environment

With winter fast approaching, snow and ice are inevitable. So before cabin fever sets in, we would like to remind everyone of one important thing….salt and how it affects concrete and the environment.

There are four primary types of deicers commonly used. They are as follows: Sodium Chloride (rock salt), calcium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate. Each has different characteristics.

Sodium Chloride – (rock salt) the most commonly recognized deicer, can melt snow up to about 16 degrees (f). Also very detrimental to concrete, metal and the environment in general.

Calcium Chloride – this product is very popular since it will melt snow and ice at below zero temperatures. In high concentrations, it can be very detrimental to concrete.

Potassium Chloride – is a naturally-occurring material that is also used as a fertilizer and a food salt substitute. Because of its high salt index and the potential to burn foliage and inhibit rooting, it is seldom used.

Calcium Magnesium Acetate – The newest deicing agent. It is salt-free and will melt snow to about – 10 degrees (f). It is less damaging to both concrete and the environment than any of the other deicers.

Never use fertilizer as a deicer!

When deicers are used, they prematurely melt snow and ice into water. This water then penetrates into the surface of the concrete and refreezes. This is known as a freeze-thaw cycle. The water that has refrozen has now increased by 9% in volume, which creates internal pressure on the surface of the concrete. Properly installed concrete is able to withstand normal freeze-thaw cycles, however, when deicers are used the amount of freeze-thaw cycles increase dramatically. This causes the surface to spall or chip and expose aggregate.

We recommend never using deicers on your concrete, we prefer snow removal by shoveling and then sand for traction. If there is no alternative but to use deicers, please use sparingly and not within the first year of installation.

More important than anything else is our environment, so remember that the more deicers we use the more our rivers, streams, aquifers, oceans, and environment become polluted.

Have a great winter!!

2013-12-18T18:13:29+00:00 By |Decorative Concrete Articles|

Resealing Stamped Concrete – Sealing Stamped Concrete

In the near future I will be adding a more in depth post about resealing stamped concrete.  For now, I would like to urge anyone who is thinking about resealing and sealing stamped concrete on their own to make sure and call their installer first.  I have seen too many homeowners attempt to seal their own stamped concrete and do more harm than good.  So unless your absolutely sure of what sealer to apply and how to apply it, be sure and call your installer or a reputable installer in your area.  Most will be happy to give free advice.

2013-12-18T18:12:25+00:00 By |Decorative Concrete Articles|

Choosing a Decorative Concrete Company

Over the past sixteen years, I have been called out to troubleshoot more than a few poorly installed decorative concrete jobs. In most cases, the homeowner or business is left with the unenviable task of going after an unresponsive company. When I see these jobs I can’t help but think “how did they choose this installer?” and over the years there has been one predominant answer. Customers thought they had found a good installer until the stamped concrete was actually installed. Deciding on which decorative concrete installer to use is first a process of elimination. Later, after the reputable contractors have been identified, you can choose which company suits your needs. If you go through a few relatively easy steps, you can usually eliminate the companies that are not doing the “right” thing. The following paragraphs include a few suggestions you can follow to ensure a positive outcome on your next decorative concrete project.

In New Jersey, all non-licensed trades must register with the division of consumer affairs under the home improvement category. All companies participating in the installation of decorative concrete, stamped concrete, colored concrete, concrete countertops, etc. fall into this category and must register with the state. When contractors send in their registration they must also send in a current certificate of insurance. You can check a contractors status by visiting This should be the first thing that you check when interviewing prospective contractors. If they are not registered they should be eliminated from your list.

The BBB or the Better Business Bureau is another great resource for eliminating prospective contractors. They have a grading system from A – F and give each company a grade in accordance to how they have conducted themselves. If a company is not listed or has a failing grade your stamped concrete should not be installed by them.

Another great way to eliminate bad companies is to ask for references. Any contractor or installer should have at least one or two completed jobs close to your area. Get the name and telephone number of the reference and be sure and call to make certain the company actually did the work. If the reference checks out, visit the job and view the workmanship for yourself. If you request references and the contractor is reluctant or cannot produce any, this should be a red flag and the contractor should be eliminated.

While the suggestions above are certainly not fool-proof, you will be amazed at how many companies you can eliminate by following these steps. Once these companies are eliminated, you can start the process of choosing the company that best suits your needs by calling them for an estimate. Remember, it’s too late once a bad stamped concrete job is installed!!

2013-12-18T18:10:14+00:00 By |Decorative Concrete Articles|

Stamped Concrete Overlays

Stamped Concrete Overlays:  A Perfect Solution to Rejuvenate Indoor Flooring Over time, indoor flooring can become worn, cracked, ugly or just plain outdated.  There are numerous choices available including stamped concrete overlays with regard to replacing or repairing indoor floors.

If floors are worn but still structurally sound, a stamped concrete overlay is an ideal solution for renovation.  Stamped concrete overlays applied over existing concrete or subflooring can refresh the appearance of flooring by duplicating the beauty as well as texture of virtually any natural material without entirely replacing the floor.

The unique composition and installation process of stamped overlays allow installation directly onto many types of existing flooring, which many people are not aware of when considering new flooring. It is a viable, innovative alternative to traditional flooring products. The budget conscious will be delighted with the cost savings and impressed with the enhanced effect.

An added feature of concrete overlays is extreme durability; the non-absorbent surface and low maintenance makes it extremely useful for high traffic areas.  Overlays are also ideal for creating customized, elegant finishes with a personal touch, unachievable with other materials.

Stamped concrete overlays are not only an affordable method to achieve vibrant and attractive decorative indoor flooring, but also extending the life of an existing structure. The cost of installing stamped concrete varies based on the complexity, patterns, colors, labor and materials involved when hiring contractors in your community. Best advice is shopping around, check references and see previous work of each contractor before you decide to start your project. This is not something one should consider doing themselves, a botched job could cost you dearly to fix, so use a professional for best results.

Before deciding to use stamped concrete overlays it is recommended that a professional be consulted to determine whether the existing concrete is suitable for this process.  Surface preparation includes cleaning and repairing cracks.   This is essential to ensure the indoor flooring has a superb finish and durability.

A stamped concrete surface overlay is an excellent solution to renovate your unsightly or damaged floor into an eye catching, appealing living space. The wide range of finishing options gives you the ability to match your current décor easily and create a space everyone will be talking about.

2013-12-18T18:09:34+00:00 By |Decorative Concrete Articles|