Choosing a Green Alternative

"We want a floor that makes a statement, has low VOC levels, uses non-solvent based products, is seamless between our internal and external finishes and has little to no maintenance" was the brief given to Transitions Polishing and Grinding by the very passionate owners and Architects of their internationally recognised, award winning 6 star green rated home in West End, Brisbane.

Environmentally Friendly Polished Concrete House BrisbaneProject Brief

Every stage of the design and planning of the floor had two common criteria:

  1. Is it green?
  2. How will it score in the LEED V3 Certification Program(or Australian equivalent Green Star Rating/Nabers)?

It was for this very reason that our proposal had to go beyond a basic polished concrete solution that used low VOC products, although it was a major component of the finishing of the concrete.

The Process

Transitions Polishing and Grinding first had to look at the largest component; the premixed concrete.

Hanson Concrete offered a range of specially formulated concrete mixes that contained a reduced, specified percentage of cement, which was substituted with waste materials. This included slag; a by-product of steel manufacture and fly-ash; a by-product of coal combustion.

Environmentally Friendly Honed Concrete House Brisbane

These products satisfy all Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) Green Star rating system requirements and can add between one and three 'green points.'

The next major elements were the finishing of the concrete, the system of polished concrete, the method in which Transitions chose to grind and polish the concrete and the products that were used during this process.

The Proposal

Our proposal was to factor in the following elements:

  • energy savings
  • water efficiency
  • CO² emissions reduction
  • VOC levels
  • Product lifecycles
  • Improvement of indoor environmental quality

Considering all of the above elements Transitions Polishing and Grinding chose a mechanically polished concrete system. This method of polishing concrete is achieved by chemically hardening the concrete slab with a low VOC liquid densifier, polishing and refining the slab to a very fine grit level and sealing the floor using a low VOC penetrating sealer.

Environmentally Friendly Polished Concrete House BrisbaneHow does the mechanically polished concrete system shape up?

Transitions used the power available onsite (solar) instead of running a combustible diesel generator to run the equipment and chose to grind the entire concrete floor dry. This was critical as it not only eliminated the need to use large amounts of water to grind the floors, but it also meant that Transitions did not have to contract waste removal companies to remove and process the liquid waste. This offered CO2 emission savings.

Mechanically polished concrete floors have a very high abrasion resistance and long life cycles (10 years), which reduces the need for ongoing maintenance and costly stripping and resealing. This also added to the energy savings.

The result

The end results speak for themselves. The floors improve the overall light in the house, reducing the need for lighting during the day. The floors also have excellent thermal mass properties (heat absorption and retention) adding ~500W/m2 in winter and ~1,000W/m2 in summer.

Overall the project was a huge success. The owner and their architects were over the moon with the results. The research and delivery of the concept, the performance and rating of the mechanically polished concrete.