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While common perception is that concrete has a higher initial cost in comparison to utilizing other construction materials in some cases, this may be true and others, not. In either situation though, the overall cost of the project is far lower with concrete when maintenance, repair, energy efficiency and other factors are considered.

Concrete has historically offered the best value in a life-cycle cost analysis, but asphalt often appeared cheaper because its first costs were lower. Therein lies the historical reasons why asphalt was so often selected.

But the paradigm has shifted, largely because of the volatility in oil pricing, as well as the associated price spikes in asphalt oil. As a result, concrete pavements in a growing number of cases is less expensive on both the basis of first costs and life-cycle costs.

Roads: Decreasing Cost of Construction

"During the second quarter of 2008, the cost of one mile of pavement, one lane wide and 8 inches thick, cost $205,000 for asphalt and $185,000 for concrete," according to the Colorado Department of Transportation

Homes: Energy Savings

Because concrete walls feature thicker unbroken layers of insulation, they provide much better energy performance than conventional wood frame construction. Computer simulations comparing concrete homes to wood frame construction have shown the combined effects of higher R-values, low air infiltration and the impact of concrete's thermal mass all combine to enable concrete walls to provide significant operating cost savings.

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