Advantages of Concrete

Not every project should be concrete, but there are many advantages of concrete structural systems that are not always analyzed during the structural system selection process. We suggest performing a thorough CBA early in conceptual and schematic phases to ensure that you get the utmost value out of your structure. Tribco is here to answer any questions and help you through the CBA process. We can help you evaluate skin and foundation requirements, energy savings, life cycle costs, flexibility for renovation and more. Following are some of the general advantages of concrete frames, which may vary widely depending on size, type, location and application of structure. Contact Tribco for accurate, up-to-date cost data on all our structural systems.


  • Concrete structures require less vertical than steel structures to achieve the same floor height adding up to savings in material, building skin and length of related MEP runs
  • No fireproofing
  • No need to pay to patch fireproofing after MEP installation
  • Increased flexibility and rigidity reduces the cost of renovation
  • Energy savings via thermal mass and volume reduction reduces operational costs
  • Reduced MEP equipment and operational cost (thermal mass, reduced volume)
  • Including the frame construction team in early conceptual and schematic planning can lead to the implementation of more efficient structural and forming systems, which could lead to significant savings in cost and schedule


  • With concrete, you can start immediately— no need to wait for fabrication
  • No exorbitant costs from changes incurred between placing the mill order and breaking ground
  • There are no upfront costs for fabrication—you pay as you build
  • Finish trades come right behind us—no need to wait for slab on metal deck and fireproofing


  • With cast-in-place concrete structural systems changes are very easy to accommodate—right up to the pour
  • Irregular shapes are easily accommodated
  • Penetrations are easily achieved
  • MEP and building modifications are very easily accommodated
    • Embedded Unistrut maximizes flexibility
    • Easily attached Blue Bangers without through-bolting issues
    • Mild reinforcement allows coring
  • Increased flexibility can be engineered in certain areas for less than $0.50 per square foot


  • The thermal mass of cast-in-place concrete in the frame alone can save 3-9% on total annual energy costs (“Modelling Energy Performance for LEED” by Medgar Marceau, “Modelling Thermal Mass” by Massachusetts Institute of Technology—MIT)
    • We modeled 3% on a 340,000-sq-ft hospital tower in Phoenix, equating to roughly $28,000 per year in thermal mass savings alone or $700,000+ over a 25-year life cycle
    • We modeled 3% on a 190,000-sq-ft hospital in Sacramento, equating to roughly $7,600 per year in thermal mass savings alone or $190,000 over a 25-year life cycle
  • The thermal mass of concrete frames also works exceptionally well with hybrid or full hydronic systems to decrease energy use up to 30-35%
  • Reduced energy use leads to smaller HVAC systems, less ductwork and more initial cost savings
    • On a 190,000-sq-ft acute care facility a concrete frame would have saved 3% in energy use, equating to an initial savings of $.20/sf in HVAC equipment or $38,000
  • Daylighting schemes are more easily achieved by concrete (thinner floor slabs enabling higher ceiling) and it’s high SRI, helping to cut lighting costs up to 87% (University of Oregon)
  • Concrete’s naturally high Solar Reflective Index (SRI) of 30+ reduces heat island effect when exposed, reducing solar gain and HVAC costs
  • Concrete saves approximately 5 to 14 in. per floor, reducing space requiring heating and cooling and reducing the length and size of MEP equipment
  • Reduced energy use = reduced life cycle impact and reduced life cycle cost
  • Concrete has much lower embodied energy than structural steel (1.5 mj/kg vs. 32 mj/kg)
  • A concrete structure will show a much better life cycle analysis than steel (“Life Cycle Analysis of Buildings,” MIT)


A concrete frame can help you achieve points in the following LEED areas:

  • Lower life cycle cost and increased durability (ID credit)
  • Increased energy efficiency via less volume, less lighting, thermal mass (EA 19 points possible)
  • No fireproofing or coating—no sealants (EQ 4.1-4.3 or ID for exposed)
  • Recarbonation (Ca(OH)2+CO2=CaCO3+H2O) = reduction in carbon footprint (ID point)
  • Recycled content via class C or F fly ash, silica fume or slag, grey water (MR 4.1 and 4.2)
  • Heat Island Effect Roof and Non-Roof—Concrete has natural SRI of 30+, lighter fly ash or slag content can get you over 78 required for roof (SS 7.1 and 7.2)
  • Recycled construction waste via, bollards or barricades (MR 2.1 and 2.2)
  • FSC formwork (as FSC credit MR 7 or ID point)
  • Biolube or other organic form-release agents (ID point)
  • Local/regional materials (MR 5.1 and 5.2)
  • Daylighting is more easily attained via floor to floor height and high SRI (EQ 8.1)
  • Including CECO or prime concrete subcontractor in the sustainable solutions for environmental value analysis and early team charettes can earn one ID point
  • Exposed concrete (ID point)


  • Concrete is a much more rigid frame reducing vibration and bounce common with steel structures, which increases user comfort and is a better option for labs and areas with sensitive equipment
  • Sound and vibration transfer is diminished approximately 67% from steel to concrete (PCA)


  • No fireproofing or corrosion protection is required eliminating all opportunity for contaminants and allergens to be trapped and re-released over time, reacting to humidity and/or airflow and eroding into the air over time causing infection, lack of well-being and reduced productivity
    • Studies have traced cases of aspergillosis to contaminated fireproofing in hospitals, sickness can be caused in residents and employees of multi-unit and office structures
  • No VOCs to deter air quality—concrete is an extremely inert material and no coating is required
  • Less vibration and sound transfer (see above)
  • Better accommodation of daylighting, which can increase feelings of well-being, staff and student productivity
  • Daylighting and air quality can increase staff productivity 6-16% (USGBC)

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