Industry News

Lafarge and Holcim Merge


The successful completion of the merger between Lafarge and Holcim was announced July 15, 2015. Now known as LafargeHolcim, the company has a presence in 90 countries and will focus on cement, aggregates, and concrete.

“Now as LafargeHolcim, we will step into the next phase of our transformation to become the leader in every respect – a company that has a positive impact on the world and can make a real difference for its customers, its employees, its shareholders and society,” said Eric Olsen, LafargeHolcim chief executive officer.

The company aims to initiate a strategic transformation by building on the best of both Lafarge and Holcim. It will focus on five areas in the first integration phase: deliver on 1.4 billion euros synergy target within three years; observe a rigorous approach to capital allocation and reduce overall capital spending; create differentiation through innovative products and solutions; create one new group and culture, and put health and safety at the center of the organization.

A new operating model is oriented to serve the local customers while leveraging the group’s size, footprint, and capabilities at a global scale. It combines empowered countries, regional management platforms, and expertise-driven group functions.



Write Lawmakers in Support of Coal Ash Recycling Bill


PCA launched a Take Action! initiative last week to approve legislation focused on the use of coal ash. On Wednesday, July 22, House lawmakers will consider the important bill which allows the cement and concrete industry to continue recycling industry waste such as coal ash.

A vote in favor of H.R 1734 will codify EPA’s decision to regulate coal ash pursuant to the more flexible solid waste provisions of the nation’s environmental laws. Continued recycling of coal ash will keep this valuable material out of the nation’s landfills and promote high quality manufacturing jobs in the cement and construction industries.

The Take Action! initiative for H.R. 1734, the “Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Act of 2015,” will encourage strong, bipartisan support on the House floor.

Contact Bryan Brendle

Codes & Standards

PCA Submits Public Comments on Proposed Changes to International Building Code

PCA submitted more than 30 public comments last week in an effort to overturn actions at the International Code Council International Building Code Committee Action Hearings in April. The most significant issues continue to concern the relaxation of passive fire protection requirements and increased acceptance of combustible materials.

Public comment period for the development of the general, fire safety, and means of egress criteria of the 2018 edition of the ICC International Building Code closed July 17, 2015. The comments will be reported in approximately three weeks.

PCA is now preparing to testify on its proposed changes and public comments, and will also review, evaluate and prepare testimony as necessary on comments submitted by others.

The Final Action Hearings will be held in Long Beach, California, September 30 to October 7, 2015. While there will be floor votes at the hearings, the final voting will not be complete for several weeks after the hearings. The floor votes taken at the hearings will be used as indicators of the actions of voting government officials present at the hearings, and reported as part of the communications used for remote voting.

The process requires two-thirds vote to overturn committee action from the previous hearings and a simple majority to advance an alternate proposal. Where the committee action is overturned and alternative language is not approved, the code requirements remain as currently published. Efforts are underway by many interested parties to foster support from state and local government officials. Local advocacy is key to the success of such campaigns and this new remote voting process. PCA’s campaign will be coordinated with its Regional Promotion Groups and industry allies.

See the ICC website

Contact Jay Hall

Market Intelligence

Oman Report Shows Constant DOT Concrete Volumes

Oman_Report_Q1_2015During the first quarter of 2015, concrete volumes have remained constant for state DOT highway lettings, despite some relative cost erosion. For the first quarter 2015, concrete volume share is at 15.2 percent, consistent with year-end 2014 figures, according to the recent Oman Systems, Inc. report.

With the large decline in oil prices beginning in the summer of 2014, it was expected that asphalt prices would follow suit. Based on an historical six-month lag when comparing oil and asphalt price movements, PCA expected a more dramatic change in asphalt prices than what has materialized thus far. Past correlations would suggest a nearly 30 percent drop in asphalt prices by now; however, asphalt PPI has fallen only 4.6 percent from December 2014, where it was at an all-time high.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) brought more than $27 billion to highway and bridge construction beginning in 2009. During the increased funding period (2009 – 2012), concrete volume shares were inflated above normal levels, to an average 17.5 percent. Following the end of ARRA, concrete volume shares leveled out to an average of 15.1 percent, up from the pre-ARRA average of 14.5 percent.

Contact Andrew Moss


Hamlin M. Jennings, 1946-2015

Jennings, HamlinHamlin M. Jennings, adjunct professor in the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and principal investigator in the Concrete Sustainability Hub, died from cancer on July 8 at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Jennings joined the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub in 2010 as the inaugural executive director, leading a multi-disciplinary team of physicists, materials sciences, engineers and architects, and pushing them to new frontiers of science-based engineering.

A prominent engineer and scientist, Jennings was widely recognized as a preeminent researcher and leader in the field of cement chemistry. He developed fundamentals of cement sciences that were transformational in concrete engineering applications. In 2002, he published the first fully qualitative model of the nanostructure of calcium silicate hydrate (C-S-H), the major component of hydrated cement. This became known as the “Jennings Colloid Model.” He went on to update this work in 2008 with “CM-II” that described the internal structure of the fundamental C-S-H particles.

From 1987-2006, Jennings taught at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. He was an associate professor in 1987, a full professor in 1994, and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering beginning in 2002. Jennings' growing scientific reputation was instrumental in the establishment at Northwestern of the Advanced Cement-Based Materials Research Center, a National Science Foundation-sponsored multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary research center aimed at expanding and improving the application of cement and concrete to meet society’s needs for housing, shelter, hospitals, and infrastructure.

Jennings will be remembered as a dedicated educator, mentor, inspiring instructor, and author or co-author of more than 200 scholarly papers.

More at

Association News

Final Call for Nominations: 2015 Gleason Awards

John P. 'Jay' Gleason

Nominations for the John P. Gleason, Jr., Leadership Awards are due Tuesday, July 21. They recognize PCA members who have exhibited industry leadership by advancing key Association programs and initiatives. 

The awards honor John P. “Jay” Gleason, Jr., who served as PCA president from 1986 until his retirement in 2007. Gleason was known for his consensus building among both members and allies and for his strong leadership skills. During his tenure, PCA membership rose from 57 percent to 98 percent of the U.S. cement industry.

Awards are presented in three categories:

Business Continuity: The nominee positively impacts issues and factors affecting PCA member companies' ability to continue viable operations. These include regulatory advocacy, federal advocacy, research, standards, safety and health, and other initiatives related to manufacturing and operations. 

Market Development: The nominee is actively involved with factors that influence increasing the size of the market for cement and cement-based products. These include national and regional marketing and promotion, imaging and branding, federal and local advocacy, codes and standards, and the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub.

Young Leaders: Recognizes up-and-coming member company employees who will lead the cement industry into the future – individuals that demonstrate high potential for success in leadership roles and exhibit a strong commitment to PCA and the cement industry. 

More information, including the nomination form and eligibility, is available on PCA’s website.

Winners will be announced at PCA’s Fall Meeting, August 31, 2015, in Chicago, Illinois.

Contact Jan Farnsworth

Association News

CP Tech Center Director Receives Research Award

Taylor, Peter_croppedThe Portland Cement Association (PCA) Education Foundation recently awarded Dr. Peter Taylor, director of National Concrete Pavement Technology Center, Iowa State University, Ames, a 2015 PCA Education Foundation J.P. Gleason Fellowship Award to support student research.

Doug Burns, executive director of the PCA North Central Region, presented Taylor with the five-year fellowship, which awards $35,000 to Iowa State University each year from 2015 to 2019.

The award will support graduate student study on improving concrete pavement durability. Taylor is one of three finalists presented with 2015 PCA Fellowship awards.

The PCA Education Foundation Research Fellowship identifies and rewards outstanding masters and doctoral students in the fields of engineering and physical sciences who are studying areas that advance the science and technology of cement and concrete.

John P. Gleason, Jr., PCA president from 1986 until his retirement in 2007, excelled at recognizing long-term opportunities and strove to bring more of a market focus to PCA programs. With the proceeds from a property sale, he created the PCA Education Foundation.

Contact Steve Kosmatka

Education & Training

PCA Offers Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures Course

PCA’s publication Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures is the foundation for a concrete industry course offered October 5-8, 2015 on the PCA campus.

The course reflects the latest advances in concrete technology. Covered will be materials, properties of concrete, mix design, placement, and testing. It is especially useful for concrete industry personnel who need fundamental yet practical concrete knowledge and combines classroom instruction, lab demonstrations, and hands-on training to help employees meet customer needs.

For more information, go to the PCA website.

Contact Michelle Wilson

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