Up to 40% of all materials used in human activity is directed into the built environment. This has a direct and visible impact on the world’s resources, energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. However, concrete has an excellent ecological profile compared to other construction materials such as metal, glass and polymers. Although cement is both resource and energy intensive when produced, compared to other products, concrete production consumes the least amount of materials and energy, produces the least amount of harmful by-products, and causes the least amount of damage to the environment. (Concrete NZ website).

However, it is recognised that the manufacture of cement, one component of concrete, contributes the most to the environmental footprint of concrete.  To reduce the footprint you need to use a cement with good credentials.  Golden Bay Cement are Firth’s preferred cement supplier and they are the only cement supplier in New Zealand to be awarded a licence to use the Environmental Choice Eco-label (EC-42-10) for their EverStar cement product . 

 Firth and Ecolabel

An ‘Ecolabel’ identifies the overall environmental preference of a product or service within a specific product/service category based on life cycle considerations.  

Firth’s Ecolabel covers the EnviroBlend® product which gives customers access to a more sustainable concrete product. 
“Our Hamer Street branch in Auckland city has held Environmental Choice - EcoLabel Certification for over five years,” explains Lily Jones, National Environmental Advisor for Firth. “The plant was approved with the EcoLabel for our EnviroBlend® mix after we satisfied a variety of environmental criteria.”



Components of Ecolabel concrete include:

•          Cement must meet requirements of EC-42-10 for Portland Cement (Golden Bay Cement)
•          Aggregate must be from an approved supplier (Winstone Aggregates)
•          An annual report of recycled products used is supplied showing the percentage included, source and
            results of chemical testing
•          Hazardous substances are excluded
•          Policies and procedures are provided on water management
•          Discharge to water pH is in the acceptable range of 6-9
•          Cement silo requirements include fabric filters, overfill sensors and pneumatic transfer of cement
•          Discharges to air are below the required amount
•          Dust management and truck washing practices are in place.


 The product uses alternatives to the high CO2 emitting cement through fly ash and the Label ensures that manufacturing processes such as waste minimisation, water management and the exclusion of hazardous substances are enforced.

At Firth we …. Declare

At Firth we believe that it is important to look at the environmental impact of building materials, elements and the building as a whole while ensuring durability and longevity of these buildings. Our teams are constantly working towards innovating and developing new products to make it easier for our customers to make smart choices towards a more sustainable lifestyle.


Firth holds Declare labels for our ready-mix concrete, concrete masonry products and mortar products, enabling us to offer customers the whole package.

 What is Declare?

Declare is an ingredients initiative for building products that are designed to shape a greener, healthier environment for construction workers, business employees and customers alike.

 A Declare label answers three questions:

• Where does a product come from?
• What is it made of?
• Where does it go at the end of its life? 

Declare is a transparency tool created in support of the Living Building Challenge Materials Petal requirements, but relevant to all parties seeking product health and source location information. By providing a clear and informative ‘nutrition label’ and a publicly accessible database of building products, Declare facilitates effective communication between manufacturers, building product specifiers and consumers. 


More information on Declare can be found here.

Greenstar and Homestar NZ Green Building Council

 New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) recognise Declare labels. Using Firth products allows projects to be recognised under the Greenstar and Homestar rating. They receive points that contribute to the overall score of a rated building or home.

NZGBC utilise third-party certification bodies such as Ecolabel to test and carry out environmental assessments of products and materials that relate to the Materials category credits. As a result, products that are environmentally preferable are recognised in the market. 

Both labels contribute toward material points in Green Star and Homestar rating tools allowing consumers to make informed choices for sustainable development.



So what are some of the sustainability credentials of concrete?

Concrete is:
Durable and safe
- it is resistant to heating and thawing; it is water and wind resistant and can’t be damaged or destroyed by bugs and mould. It also has a life expectancy of 100 years when maintained – twice that of any other building material. Concrete has a high fire resistance and will not burn.
Economical - it promises long life with low maintenance.
Healthy - it can reduce noise, dust and chemical emissions.
Comfortable - due to its high-performance thermal mass, insulation capacity and passive solar design.
Recyclable - its inorganic composition makes it ideal for crushing and recycling.  When crushed and exposed to the environment it adsorbs CO2 through the process of carbonation.

For more information on Declare and Firth’s Ecolabel product EnviroBlend® click here.