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Building Wonder: Earth Friendly Concrete® for Wonder Reef on the Gold Coast

Image and video supplied by City of Gold Coast © City of Gold Coast
Image and video supplied by City of Gold Coast © City of Gold Coast

Wonder Reef is Australia’s first floating dive site, but will also be the first underwater attraction utilising Wagners’ Earth Friendly Concrete® (EFC®). Subcon approached Wagners as the leader in EFC® to reduce the embodied carbon of the art reef. As members of the Blue Economy, we are responsible for sustaining the oceans we work in – and part of that is reducing the environmental impact of our underwater constructions.

Wagners started as a family business in Toowoomba in 1989 and has grown to become a leading concrete supplier with innovation at its core. With classic Aussie-ingenuity built into their every day, Wagners sought to address the growing problem with cement causing high embodied carbon in the built environment. With Wagners EFC®, project stakeholders have the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint while simultaneously utilising a superior product.

Every cubic metre of EFC® saves 250kg of embodied carbon. By using this product for the 310m3 of concrete in Wonder Reef, we have successfully reduced the carbon footprint of the project by close to 100 tonnes – equivalent to what 95 acres of forest would absorb in a year.

Wagners EFC® uses a similar method to traditional concrete, however, instead of using Portland cement in the formula, Wagners has created a custom-designed geopolymer binder system using industry bi-products including blast furnace slag from iron production and fly-ash. Not only is the product better for our environment and ocean, it’s also better for construction than normal concrete. Performance advantages include longer-lasting durability, lower shrinkage, earlier strength gain, higher flexural tensile strength and increased fire resistance (although in the application of underwater architecture this is not a concern!)

Wonder Reef is the first artificial reef dive attraction in the world utilising this product, but EFC® has already been successfully deployed for marine products such as wharf structures, boat ramps, coastal armoring and dollases, with significant testing around marine, fisheries, waste and sewerage applications. Compared to traditional applications, EFC® has little calcium and is resistant to sulphate and acid attacks that ordinarily corrode concrete in a marine environment. 

Wagners EFC® General Manager Jason Zafiriadis said “The Gold Coast project exhibits the level of leadership required to bring Earth Friendly Concrete® to the mainstream. Not only is the product better for the environment, but it’s also better for construction as it’s a superior product to traditional formulas.” 

We are now working to roll out Wagners EFC® formula in the majority of our projects moving forward because it is cohesive with our thread of enabling ocean communities to thrive through all of our projects. Working within the Blue Economy means we have a responsibility to refine our construction methods to sustain our oceans for the future.

You can read more about the incredible Wonder Reef dive attraction here