Concrete is one of the most used building materials. Whether it’s being laid as a foundation, being put down for sidewalks or used in other ways, it’s prevalent in ways you don’t even think about every day you get out of bed. Concrete has been around for centuries and it’s used in almost every country in the world in way, shape or form. China, however, has done something astounding in the last three years. In the last three years, China has utilized more concrete than the United States has in a century.

Yes, you read that right. China has used more concrete in just three years than the US has used in a hundred. Between 2011 and 2013, China utilized more than 6.6 gigatons of concrete in projects and exports. As China is one of the leading exporters of goods in the world, this shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re exporting concrete. But the number is still staggering.

Bill Gates pointed out the fact in a recent discussion, citing USGS cement stats highlighting what China has done with concrete. In the 20th century, the United States produced close to 4.5 gigatons of concrete. It’s astounding, isn’t it?

Gates highlighted how China has invested significant money and resources into developing Shanghai, then branching out into every major city in the country in the last five years. This is part of the reason why concrete has become so important to Chinese construction and development. It’s relatively cheap to make and ship, giving China a great way to quickly build up cities, even developing ones.