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Locally Sourced Construction Aggregates – The Best Alternative to Natural Aggregates

Natural aggregates are the most common materials used in construction. These materials, which are usually made up of rocks or minerals, have been used for thousands of years as a source for creating buildings and structures. While these aggregates continue to be an important component in many different types of construction projects, there have been some difficulties in sourcing them locally. Reduced availability of natural aggregates and stricter environmental regulations have driven the industry to find new, more eco-friendly alternative materials for construction projects. The best resource identified by those looking to incorporate new alternatives is locally sourced construction aggregates. Read more to learn about locally sourced construction aggregates and how they can help you meet your next project’s unique needs.

What are Natural Aggregates? 

Construction aggregates come from a variety of sources, but the most common are natural aggregates like sand or gravel. As the name suggests, these materials are mined from nature and then refined for use in construction. While natural aggregates have been primarily used in construction for over thousands of years (and continue to be an important component for many different types of construction projects), there are some difficulties in sourcing them locally.

Challenges Associated with Natural Aggregates

Natural aggregates are in limited supply. In some parts of the world, sand and gravel deposits have been mined to the point of exhaustion. Wherever these deposits have been exhausted, there is no viable way to replace the materials. In other parts of the world, the environmental costs of producing these materials have made them a less desirable alternative. A good example of this is limestone, which is commonly used in the production of cement. Limestone mining has caused significant damage to ecosystems around the world, including the Florida Everglades.

How do Natural Aggregates Help?

The most important benefit of locally sourced construction aggregates is how it can make the world better with its capability to offer long-term sustainability and reduced carbon emissions. We now know that the damage that mining limestone can cause to surrounding ecosystems makes it an unsustainable option for most construction projects. Although we have viable natural alternatives to limestone, like manufactured sand, these sources are often far from construction sites. Using locally sourced construction aggregates can also bring down the transportation needs associated with your project, which increases efficiency, lowers cost and helps reduce carbon emissions and other negative environmental impacts. For example, the average distance construction materials travel before arriving at a construction site is about 1500 miles. This means that the average construction project may emit as much as 40,000 pounds of carbon dioxide or CO2. In some cases, such as cement production, the carbon emissions associated with the production of a single cubic yard of concrete are enough to produce 5 tons of CO2 emissions. Local construction aggregate production can help to reduce these transportation costs and associated carbon emissions.

Central Iowa’s Solution

Legacy Materials is a woman owned business (WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise) located on 250 acres in Booneville, Iowa, just north of the Raccoon River that produces sand and gravel products for a variety of industries. Legacy Materials takes pride in producing the natural aggregates Central Iowa needs for community and commercial development.

How Are Locally Sourced Construction Aggregates Made?

Local governments, commercial developers, and homeowners can work with local aggregate producers to locally source construction aggregates. These producers take materials that might otherwise be considered waste, such as roof shingles, concrete, asphalt, or wooden pallets, and process them into usable material. This can reduce the demand for virgin materials and create an eco-friendlier alternative to traditional concrete. For example, a commercial roofing company may have access to a large number of shingles that would otherwise be sent to a landfill. A local aggregate producer could help companies to use the shingles to create more eco-friendly concrete, with reusable and recyclable material as its primary component.

The Limitations

Locally sourced construction aggregates are a helpful alternative, but the usage of these resources comes with its own limitations. Such limitations may be more pronounced in areas lacking a high construction activity volume. Not all construction projects can use locally sourced materials. While many projects can incorporate locally sourced construction aggregates, some projects may be better suited to the traditional means. On the other hand, locally sourced aggregates are not always available, as some areas lack the construction debris to fully supply this industry. This forces a longer wait time between placing orders and receiving the materials.

Eco-friendly, Feasible 

Reduced availability of natural aggregates and stricter environmental regulations have driven the industry to find new, more eco-friendly alternative materials for construction projects. Locally sourced construction aggregates present a sustainable, feasible alternative. 

Here’s the tip again: When searching for locally sourced construction aggregates, look for companies that source their materials as close to your project site as possible. This will help you meet your long-term sustainability goals for the project and reduce the overall associated construction costs. 

Legacy Materials, in Booneville, Iowa produced the natural aggregates Central Iowa is looking for. Call 515-432-7333 to learn more about our topsoil, concrete sand,  asphalt sand, fine fill sand, fill dirt, washed river rock, pea rock, D-57, and porous backfill.

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