PCA Applauds Senate Action to Block EPA Overreach on US Waters

A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Deb Fischer (R-NE) last week introduced "The Federal Water Quality Protection Act of 2015" to rein in a proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that would significantly increase federal jurisdiction over the nation's waterways.   

The rule, released jointly by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, would greatly expand the scope of "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) that would be subject to federal regulation. The Senators believe that the expanded scope goes well beyond what Congress intended and violates precedents set in Supreme Court rulings. PCA agrees. 

Many U.S. industries, including the cement industry, have urged EPA to withdraw the proposed rule and instead work with state and local officials and stakeholders to develop an approach that respects the jurisdictional boundaries that have been set by Congress and affirmed by the Supreme Court. EPA has chosen to reject this balanced approach in favor of a massive expansion of federal authority. The legislation would maintain balanced state and federal roles in protecting the environment.

Contact Bryan Brendle


Big Turnout for IEE-IAS/PCA Conference

More than 900 participants representing 29 countries attended the 57th annual IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Industry Technical Conference in Toronto, Ontario last week. The conference included more than 30 technical presentations and tutorials, and more than 150 exhibitors.

The 2015 cement industry technical conference included presentations from the industry’s top technical people, addressing the diverse technical issues and proposing potential solutions to the many challenges facing the cement industry. It opened with a keynote by Glen Thibeault, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in Ontario.

Well-attended sessions included an economic update by Edward Sullivan, PCA group vice president and chief economist, an address by PCA Board of Director Chairman John Stull, president and CEO of Lafarge North America, and an update on research at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub by Dr. Franz Ulm, MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub executive director.

Winning papers were:

1st Place - Maximizing SCM Content of Blended Cements, by John Kline, John Kline Consulting and John Guynn, Roman Cement LLC.

2nd Place - A Cement Plant's Experience in Investigating Power Sags Leads to a Reduction in Kiln Outages by Utilizing Power Hardening Methods, by Alan Finch, Ash Grove Cement Company.

3rd Place - Cement Industry Readiness Check for Upgraded Environmental Regulations: Final Actions to Implement the Latest MACT, NSPS, and Alternative Fuels Requirements, by Carrie Yonley, Schreiber Yonley and Associates/Trinity and Mike Remsberg, Trinity Consulting.

Next year's conference will take place in Dallas, Texas, from May 15-19, 2016, with Ash Grove Cement Company hosting a tour of its Midlothian plant.

Contact Rick Bohan

Member News

Lafarge Announces New Low-Carbon Cement Process

A patented technology to lower CO2 emissions in the cement process and utilize CO2 in precast concrete manufacturing will be commercialized worldwide through an agreement between Lafarge and Solidia Technologies.

The commercial launch will first take place in key markets in North America and in Europe for the manufacturing of concrete elements such as paving stones, roof tiles and concrete blocks.

Solidia developed a new binder made from similar raw materials to ordinary portland cement and produced in a traditional rotary kiln. It is produced at lower temperatures and through a different chemical reaction that generates less CO2.

Used afterwards in the manufacture of precast concrete, Solidia Cement™ hardens through the addition and absorption of CO2 (‘carbonation’), in a patented curing process that reduces the overall carbon footprint by up to 70 percent.

Lafarge has collaborated with Solidia Technologies since 2013 to industrialize this technology.

Codes & Standards

ICC Hearings Focused on Fire Safety

At the International Code Council (ICC) Committee Action Hearings, April 19-28, in Memphis, Tennessee, cement industry representatives spoke out on several issues, including fire safety. 

Representatives from PCA, National Ready Mix Concrete Association, National Concrete Masonry Association, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, and others delivered testimony in opposition of taller wood buildings and the use of cross-laminated timber. Many opponents, including the fire service, joined the concrete industry, and successfully kept the wooden high rises out of the code for another cycle. Unfortunately, however, due to efforts posturing fire retardant treated wood as synonymous with non-combustible in previous building code cycles, its use was approved as a suitable alternative to non-combustible Type III construction and is anticipated to be approved for buildings up to seven stories in height.

Additional PCA proposals for resiliency and to strengthen the fire code were not accepted. The Codes and Standards department will review the proposals which were heard at the Committee Action Hearings and provide a public comment where applicable. Public comment allows minor modifications to address the concerns of the committee during the hearings and provides for a final vote by the ICC membership with voting status. Voting members include those employed by government as code regulators. 

Read more on ICC Spring Committee Hearings - Group A results.

The ICC Final Action Hearings will be held in Long Beach, California, September 30 – October 6, 2015. 

Contact Jay Hall

Market Intelligence

Lumber Encroaches on Concrete Market Share

Mid Rise Res Framing Share (wood)

Advancements and increasing acceptance of cross-laminated timber, International Building Code’s recognition of fire retardant treated wood, increased promotional funding, and relative cost factors are apparent catalysts for wood making inroads in building segments traditionally viewed as bastions for concrete and steel.   

The most dramatic wood framing share increases in recent years are in the mid-rise lodging sector which consists of multi-family structures, hotels, and dormitories. In 2013, wood mid-rise construction achieved an 18.6 percent share – an increase of 12.3 percent from a historical market of 6.3 percent. In the 2000s, wood frames averaged 4.2 percent share.

On a cement volume basis, mid-rise lodging pales in size compared to its low-rise counterpart; however, mid-rise structures are traditionally a segment in which concrete benefits from strong framing share performance. Framing share erosion in high-rise is expected to be minimal due to current codes and technological limitations, but mid-rise remains at substantial risk. Among other segments, public and office buildings remain resistant to wood framing share encroachment.  

Contact Dave Zwicke


Concrete Safe Rooms Featured in New Video Series

New videos developed by PCA, Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), and FEMA highlight the use of concrete for tornado safe rooms to help families understand their options for a properly built concrete safe room that will deliver life safety when it counts.

The video series meets the demand for consumer desire to better understand tornado safe room options. “Which Tornado Safe Room is Right for You?,” features former CNN reporter John Zarrella comparing cast-in-place, masonry concrete block, insulated concrete forms, and precast concrete safe rooms. More in-depth videos on each safe room construction type are available on the PCA You Tube Channel and include PCA Market Development Director Donn Thompson.

A FLASH analysis of data from the NOAA/National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center reports that nearly 90 percent of all U.S. counties experienced tornado watches from 2004-2013, for an average of 27 watch hours per year.

Contact Donn Thompson


Industry Associations Collaborate at NACE Expo


Paving associations collaborated to present a strong showing at the recent 2015 Joint Expo and Annual Conference in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Hosted by the Florida chapters of National Association of County Engineers (NACE) and the American Public Works Association, the conference aimed to give nearly 650 attendees a better understanding of doing business with county and city governments in an uncertain business climate. Additionally, participants received information on the latest innovations in engineering technology, best practices, safety, management systems, and software.

PCA, American Concrete Pavement Association, and the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, exhibited together as the Alliance for Pavement Competition around the theme, “Competition Paves” during the event’s two-day exposition. The program aims to demonstrate concrete’s enhanced cost-savings and improved value to agencies/owners, taxpayers and the traveling public.

Materials highlighting paving competition between states attracted attention and sparked discussions.

Contact Wayne Adaska

Regional News

Tennessee Finds Success with Two-Lift Concrete

PCA-SE-SPOTLIGHT-I65-NASHVILLE4 (3)Two-lift concrete pavement incorporated into Interstate 65 near Nashville earned praise from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The method utilizes wet-on-wet construction techniques that allow for use of surface aggregates with improved physical characteristics, use of recycled aggregates in the lower lift, or other combinations of materials which might improve pavement performance and economy.

Work on the $50.7 million project began in 2014. The FHWA Strategic Highway Research Program 2 Implementation Assistance Program aided the TDOT.

Jamie Waller, TDOT materials and tests manager for aggregate concrete and soils, said the project appeared to be a success.

“TDOT will be reviewing some of these testing measures and equipment to possibly include in our program for the future,” Waller said.

See Spotlight report.                             

Contact Roger Faulkner