Shamrock Materials conducts a test pour of Ekocrete at its plant in Petaluma, Calif.
Shamrock Materials conducts a test pour of Ekocrete at its plant in Petaluma, Calif.

The producers of Ekocrete call it, “the most environmentally sensitive concrete product on the market.” Jim Glessner and Richard McCabe met when their companies were working together to improve concrete with nanofiber technology. Their shared interest in the environment led them to create Ekocrete.

Glessner, owner of GST International, of Reno, Nev., has worked with concrete and sealers his whole life. His father founded Glaze ‘N Seal in 1962, in Irvine, Calif. “We have always been ahead of the EPA to make our products as eco-friendly as possible,” he says.

McCabe is the technical director and formulator of Ekocrete. He became interested in green concrete while working for a chemical company, developing nanofibers to reduce concrete cracking. When he began researching green concrete he was surprised to learn, “there was nothing out there.”

Ekocrete uses 90% recycled materials, including recycled concrete and byproducts, such as flyash and silica fume. “This makes the concrete much stronger and much longer-lived,” says McCabe. “It's not going to break down in five years. We estimate a 100-year lifespan.”

The basic mix is 5000 psi, but it can be adjusted from 2000 psi up to 10,000 psi. The manufacturer uses local materials to customize the mix to meet clients' requirements. Recycled carpet fiber reduces cracking, and fine particles create a dense surface that increases water impermeability and resists abrasion.

Ekocrete's strength and durability increase the “cradle to grave” lifecycle for projects in which it is used. By using recycled concrete as aggregate, it reduces landfill waste. Its post-consumer waste content also helps fight global warming by reducing additional CO2 emissions.

For customers, Ekocrete's performance is very comparable to regular concrete. The same concrete equipment and processes can be used for mixing, handling, placing, and finishing Ekocrete. It can be colored, stained, acid-etched, or stamped for a decorative finish. In addition, low-cost recycled materials make it more economical to produce than traditional concrete.

Uncharted territory

Many concrete producers make environmentally friendly mixes, and recycled materials such as flyash have been used for years. But GST claims to be the only company in the country marketing and developing truly eco-friendly concrete by eliminating all virgin aggregate, which makes up 80% of the mix design.

GST's main challenge is creating a consistent concrete mix with inconsistent materials, such as recycled concrete, or even road bed. Where pure concrete is available, the product is much stronger. Ekocrete's bagged mix uses only crushed concrete as aggregate and delivers a stronger product.

Ekocrete is being distributed as a bagged mix to retail outlets and through licensed ready mixed producers. GST is seeking producers who are interested in making an eco-friendly product without reinventing the wheel.