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Campaign Promotes Building with Concrete

Friday, August 19, 2016

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As some campaign to broaden the use of materials like wood in commercial and residential building, an industry group is touting the benefits of an old standby: concrete.

Build with Strength is a campaign spearheaded by the National Ready Mix Concrete Association, a group representing producers and providers of ready-mix concrete. It aims to promote the use of concrete in building structures, and touts benefits like fire safety, strength and value.

Timber Construction Trend

Earlier this year, five senators representing states across the northern U.S. introduced the Timber Innovation Act, which would help to develop ways to use wood in building tall structures (over 85 feet high). The bill, which in late April was referred to the Senate’s Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, was joined by a counterpart in the House in July.

Roy St. Commons, Seattle
Build with Strength

The campaign, in addition to addressing legislation and educating the industry on the advantages of concrete, aims to promote insulated concrete forms, used in Roy St. Commons in Seattle (pictured).

It’s part of a trend toward employing engineered wood in the construction of large buildings, where wood had previously been eschewed over fire safety and structural concerns. Technological advances such as fire-resistive coatings and nail-laminated timber panels have made the possibility of using wood more attractive, as in the T3 building in Minneapolis.

Concrete, though, remains the best material for the job, according to Build with Strength. The group fought to stop legislation in Washington state this spring that would have given favor to projects using cross-laminated timber as their structural basis.

Disconnect with Lawmakers

The NRMCA says the campaign, also activated in Maryland to address legislation there, stemmed from research the organization did, indicating a disconnect between industry experts and lawmakers.

“The research showed that a great majority of the design/build community was favorable to concrete construction because of attributes like strength, durability and ease of use,” the organization said. “However, certain misconceptions about cost and environmental impact often led decision makers to choose less safe building materials such as wood and wood products.”

The campaign, in addition to addressing legislation and educating the industry on the advantages of concrete, aims to promote insulated concrete forms, structural blocks made of reinforced concrete that the group says are stronger, safer and more soundproof than traditional wood framing.

Ruffing Heads Up Campaign

The NRMCA announced earlier this month that it hired industry veteran Brett Ruffing, formerly of the Kentucky Ready Mix Concrete Association, to head up Build with Strength efforts as senior director, communications and public affairs, for building promotion.

“We are very fortunate to have someone of Brett’s caliber join the Build with Strength campaign,” said NRMCA President Robert Garbini. “He has impressed many of us with his work in Kentucky and we know he will bring the same energy level and promotional talents to his new position.”


Tagged categories: Architecture; Building Envelope; Commercial / Architectural; Commercial Construction; concrete; Construction; North America; Residential Construction

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