The production of Portland cement, which is the primary ingredient in stucco and concrete, produces 7 percent of all man-made carbon dioxide. It produces pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, into our atmosphere. Not to mention it’s pretty dusty stuff and contributes significantly to particulate matter pollution.

The EPA has recently proposed new restrictions for the production of Portland cement to make it a bit less hostile to our environment, but industry groups say such regulations may endanger the financial ability of many plants to continue production. By some accounts, we are cautioned that these regulations may result in the closure of up to 50 percent of the plants now producing the product. This is at a time when our nation is trying to dig our way out of a hole economically by infusing money into the repair and expansion of our infrastructure.

The use of fly ash, rice hulls and other pozzolanic products that can be used as admixes to substitute for some of the Portland cement in a mix is one solution, but is it enough? How do we walk the economic-ecological tightrope to both save our environment and build our way out of this recession?