Market Intelligence

Highway Spending Lags Behind Use

Gas Tax After Inflation (002-framed)Investment in the U.S. highway system continues to lag far behind demographic changes, according to a recent PCA flash report.

Over the past 25 years, lane miles in the highway system grew by a meager 7.7 percent, while the number of licensed drivers rose by nearly 50 million (an increase of roughly 30 percent). The number of vehicles on the road escalated by 65 million (an increase of 35 percent), and total vehicle miles travelled swelled 45 percent. Additionally, travel delays surged by nearly 70 percent, and “wasted” fuel from these delays increased by more than 2.1 billion gallons per year.

Comparing the expected demographic movement for the next 25 years with existing highway lane mileage suggests traffic congestion could increase an additional 70 percent, with another 2.2 billion gallons of “wasted” fuel.

Congress’s recently passed five year surface transportation spending program, Fix America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) act, does not go far enough to improve congestion. While the program increases nominal annual spending, real inflation adjusted spending is held roughly constant throughout the program at 2015 levels.

Contact Ed Sullivan


Spring Congress Registration Opens

2016 Spring Congress Logo_low_res_framedRegistration is now open for the PCA Spring Congress, March 13-15, at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.

As part of the Spring Congress, a Centennial reception and banquet will be held March 14 at the nearby Renaissance Blackstone Hotel, Crystal Ballroom. The room is where cement executives met in 1916 to form PCA.

In addition to PCA committee sessions and meetings, Ed Sullivan, PCA group vice president and chief economist, will present an economic update on March 15 and Board of Directors for both PCA and CTLGroup will meet.

Deadline for hotel reservations and meeting registration is February 15. See hotel reservations details.

Register for the meeting online

Contact Kathryn DiProva


16th Edition of Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures Book Released

EB001 16 cover-low res3x3_framedEvery industry has one outstanding reference book, and for concrete it is Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures, EB001.16—the guide to applications, methods, and materials. For more than 90 years, the publication has been the cement and concrete industry’s primary reference on concrete technology. Backed by 100 years of PCA research and technology, this book is a “must have” for anyone involved with concrete. The book is now available for purchase.

See the website for additional information including past editions, training courses, and Powerpoint presentations.


ICC Voting on 7-Story Wood Frame Buildings Starts Next Week

Woodframewall_lowres_framedEncourage building and fire officials to act to prevent further construction of 7-story wood frame buildings across the country by voting for a buildings code change February 8-21.

The ICC code change, G170-15 as modified with Public Comment 2, clarifies that fire retardant treated wood (FRTW) is not a substitute for non-combustible materials used in loadbearing exterior walls of Type III construction. If the proposal does not advance, misinterpretations of current code language will continue and more 7-story FRTW wood frame buildings will be constructed. Naturally, the wood industry is campaigning to have this proposal disapproved.

In fact, the American Wood Council (AWC) and Hoover Treated Wood Products filed appeals with the International Codes Council in an attempt to have the proposed change removed from the ballot. The American Iron and Steel Institute, Masonry Alliance for Codes and Standards, and PCA countered with letters and testimony. Ultimately, the code change proposal was retained on the ballot.

While an interim success for our industry, representatives of the wood industry, National Association of Home Builders, American Institute of Architects and others are recommending to local government officials that code change G170-15 Public Comment 2 be disapproved. Our industry needs the change to be approved.

View PCA's recommendations for voting on this and other Cycle A proposals modifying the 2018 edition of the ICC International Building Code.

Contact Steve Szoke


20 Code Change Proposals Submitted for Group B Hearings

Oregon building fire_lowres_framedAllied groups including the Masonry Alliance for Codes and Standards and Steel Framing Alliance recently collaborated with PCA to develop and submit 20 proposals to the International Code Council (ICC) Group B code development cycle.

The cycle includes administrative updates, International Building Codes (IBC) structural criteria, International Residential Code (IRC), International Fire Code (IFC), International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), and International Urban Wild Land Interface Code (IUWIC). Hundreds of proposals are scheduled to be posted March 8 on the ICC website for review prior to the Committee Action Hearings on April 17-27, in Louisville, Kentucky.

Among issues of chief focus for PCA and its allies are construction fires, attic sprinkler protection, public awareness, safety for  fire services, and concern for the public at large.

Below are briefs of proposals submitted by PCA and allies to the ICC Group B code change cycle.

Fires during construction - Require a 24-hour watch once construction exceeds a given height or story, fire department access around the building during construction and/or sprinkler protection during construction when using combustible building materials.

Increased sprinkler protection -  Require sprinkler protection in attics constructed of untreated wood and balconies and decks using combustibles.  Limit the use of residential sprinkler  systems in mid-rise construction clarify sprinkler requirements.

Fire Resistance - Require any fire-rated assemblies that are breached to be repaired such as to provide  the same hourly rating as was required when constructed. Add ACI 216.1, Code Requirements for Determining the Fire Resistance of Concrete and Masonry Construction Assemblies, to the IRC as an acceptable method for determining the fire resistance of concrete and masonry as an alternative to testing.

Wildland Urban Interface - Remove heavy timber and log home construction from the acceptable list of ignition resistant materials used in severe wildland fire exposures.

Public Awareness - Alert occupants when the fire sprinkler system is not operational.

Energy Code - Correct mass wall U-factors and heat capacity values.

Stucco - Correlate the requirements for exterior plaster (stucco) with the requirements of ASTM standards and ACI 524R-08, Guide to Portland Cement-Based Plaster

Prescriptive Design of Concrete Homes - Include PCA 100-12, Prescriptive Design of Exterior Concrete Walls for One- and Two-Family Dwellings in the  IRC.

View the Group B code change proposals in full.

Contact Jay Hall 

Market Development

FLASH Features Cement and Concrete at 2016 Conference

FLASH_Justman_cropped_framedThe Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) prominently featured the cement and concrete industry at its 2016 conference last week in Orlando, Florida. The annual event brings together the nation's foremost voices in the disaster safety and resilience movement to share best practices, inspire, collaborate, and create meaningful action.

Mark Justman, PCA vice president, market development, received the Board Member of the Year award in honor of his and PCA efforts helping the resilience and mitigation community understand the value of building better with concrete. FLASH has relied on PCA’s expertise in resilient construction and code enhancement, and has carried the concrete message throughout their efforts. Through the FLASH partnership, PCA has leveraged relationships with Federal Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA), National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), and New Jersey Insititute of Technology (NJIT).

Also at the conference, Larry Rowland, Lehigh White Cement Company manager, marketing and technical services, participated in a panel discussion moderated by Ed Laatsch, FEMA director, planning, safety and building science division. Titled “The Next Generation of Residential Construction - Resilience through How We Build, Materials We Choose, and How We Leverage Data,” Rowland discussed how building codes are the foundation of resilience. Also contributing was T. Reed Miller, a research associate in the Materials Systems Laboratory, MIT Concrete Sustainabilty Hub, who informed the audience that the true cost of a home includes its ability to withstand the impact of disaster in the long term.

On another panel, Donn Thompson, PCA senior director, market development, moderated a discussion on the PCA-led Breezy Point demonstration home in New Jersey. In “Rebuilding Resilient in Breezy Point A Concrete Way to Achieve Resiliency, Fire-Resistance and Energy Efficiency, Too,” the focus was on the post-Sandy education and outreach initiative which highlights resilient building products and techniques. The Breezy Point build will serve as the model for a resilient design guide and video series that will deliver lessons learned to builders and design professionals in all coastal states.

Contact Alpa Swinger