Durability and Longevity

Concrete and concrete masonry endures.  As a highly durable construction material with low maintenance requirements, well-designed concrete structures can be expected to exceed their minimum service life as specified in the New Zealand Building Code, and in some cases last for centuries (Case Study 7).  Over recent decades, technological advances have led to high performance concrete that can be engineered to suit the most demanding specifications.

Concrete’s long life means it is more likely that a concrete building will come to the end of its life because no further use can be found for it (social or economic obsolescence), rather than the concrete having failed due to age.  As such, concrete’s durability allows for the chance to repeatedly strip the building back to its structural framework for redesign and refurbishment, after the initial use of the space has passed.  Concrete foundation elements from one building can also be reused for another application in a new building.

Concrete also has the ability to resist extreme weather events such as flooding, which is predicted to become a more common occurrence in New Zealand as a result of climate change.  Concrete’s water resistance makes quick re-occupancy possible as cleaning, drying and repair are minimised.  This has economic as well as social and environmental benefits.