In all human civilizations building and constructions were central components in human life with continuous struggle for sustainable comfort living in harmony with nature. As the concept of sustainability did not exist in the same way as we know it today, ancient solutions were based on practical use of naturally available materials in combination with the sun as source of heat and thermal energy. Climate/weather conditions played major rules in building and construction and people adapted living to their environment.
The Egyptian Pyramids, temples and living rooms were built more than 4500 years ago with zero energy consumption, zero carbon dioxide emissions and no toxic waste. How the Pyramids and those buildings were built is still matter of speculation and debate. According to historical data ancient Egyptians built the Giza Pyramids; Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure in a span of 85 years in the 26th century BC. How such sustainable technology was mastered is still a mystery what regards saving energy, water and environment.
Most of current problems today are related to implementation and use of technologies whether or not suitable for the environments. Because of this, the conform of modern technology comes with very high price in terms of economy, environment and above all an enormous loss of cultural and locally based building codes that developed throughout several generations. Only, in few cases where enough resources and investments exist there are successful examples, however it remains to see how such solution can be expanded on larger scales. The “world’s first carbon neutral zero-waste city” is slowly becoming a reality of epic proportions. The prototypical sustainable city, Masdar, is currently under construction twenty miles outside of Abu Dhabi. When finished, the city will be powered entirely by renewable energy, making it one of the world’s most sustainable urban developments. The city has its own sustainability-driven research center, which is devoted to the development of alternative energy (http://youtu.be/FyghLnbp20U).
Among most recent advances in building material is a new type of cement that is based on Pozzolan, which can be found in nature from volcanic deposits. Also, industrial waste from iron and power plans can be recycled and used in producing green cement. Green cements, as compared to OPC “ordinary Portland cement”, are very energy and water saving, environmentally much more friendly with no waste remains and no emissions of GHG. Also, have enormous advantages especially what regards production cost, mechanical properties, duration and maintainance. Modern technology can produce sustainable building materials, green cement, for erection of complicated structures that have excellent durability but in much much faster time as compared to ancient civilizations. Currently, the best possible sustainable building materials can bring about energy saving of more that 90% with very near zero carbon dioxide emission and zero waste remains.
To understand the importance of Pozzolan in modern technologies for production of green cement one has to back 2000 years ago. The Romans at that time started making concrete but it wasn’t quite like today’s concrete. They had a different formula that resulted in not as strong as our modern concrete. Yet structures like the Pantheon and the Colosseum have survived for centuries, often with little to no maintenance. Geologists, archaeologists and engineers have arrived a key component in the Roman’s concrete: volcanic ash. Usually, three parts volcanic ash were mixed to one part lime, according to Vitruvius, first-century B.C. architect and engineer. Modern research shows that the very secret of durability of the buildings of the Roman Empire was due to the chemical composition of concretes made with Pozzolan, i.e. the ash’s unique mix of minerals appears to have helped concrete to withstand chemical decay and damage. For information (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-secrets-of-ancient-romes-buildings-234992/).