What Does CBS Stand for in Construction?

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The basic concrete block.
The basic concrete block. (Image: majana/iStock/Getty Images)

The acronym CBS stands for concrete block structure. Concrete block used to be considered too ugly for higher-end residential use. This attitude has changed somewhat, as concrete design has improved and its safety features have been recognized. Today's "concrete blocks" are often interlocking, molded and insulated structures that make construction rapid and efficient.

Concrete Block Structures in History

People have been combining crushed stone and water to form building materials for thousands of years. The Bedouins, Chinese and Egyptians all developed early forms of concrete. The Pantheon in Rome is a vast concrete dome, still the largest one in existence that's not reinforced.. The invention of Portland cement in the early 19th century and.later innovations like steel-reinforced concrete and the development of a standard formula for ready-mix led to widespread use in industrial construction.

Concrete Block Structures and Safety

Steel-reinforced concrete block buildings are disaster-resistant to a much greater extent than traditional wood-framed construction. Concrete doesn't burn, holds its own in severe weather events, and can be built to withstand earthquakes. It's a popular choice among survival-minded residents of wildfire and hurricane-prone areas. These qualities can lower the cost of homeowner's insurance.

Concrete Block Structures and the Environment

Concrete block construction has one obvious environmental advantage: it reduces the number of trees being cut down. Modern concrete construction using insulated concrete forms, or ICFs, is easier to heat and cool than a traditional wooden house, leading to a lower carbon footprint. Some environmentalists object to the plastic or foam ingredients used in creating ICFs, and innovations such as "hempcrete" are being developed to make concrete a more eco-friendly material.

Life in a Concrete Home

Concrete block construction used to be extremely utilitarian and squared-off, but ICFs have changed all that. The use of forms allows builders to use concrete in any style or shape desired, and the forms make it easier to attach interior and exterior sheathing materials. Concrete reduces exterior noise by as much as two-thirds. It's also less attractive to insects and rodents. Concrete creates a substantial thermal mass, so that the house will retain both heat and cool temperatures longer.

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