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PCA News

September 11, 2013

LaHood: Long-Term Thinking Needed for Sound Infrastructure

MIT CSHub Showcase Stresses Building for LIFE: 
Life cycle thinking * Innovation * Fiscal responsibility * Environmental leadership

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub will host its 2013 Showcase Sept. 25-26 at MIT’s Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass. The Honorable Ray LaHood, former Secretary of Transportation, will deliver the keynote speech on the importance of considering the long-term impacts of infrastructure decisions—a key element of the Hub’s research.

The Showcase will kick off with a reception on the evening of Sept. 25. Following the keynote speech from LaHood on Sept. 26, the program features a series of interactive workshops on key hub research topics.

The first session on pavements addresses two key issues for infrastructure investment: Cost and environmental impact of our nation’s system of streets and highways. The U.S. transportation sector burns more than 174 billion gallons of fuel each year, making up 27 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, both state and federal governments are struggling to find ways to fund adequate infrastructure investment in today’s economic climate.

MIT researchers found that a key environmental impact is how pavement properties affect the fuel economy of cars and trucks. Roadway roughness and stiffness affect fuel consumption. If the pavement deflects or bends slightly under traffic loads, cars and trucks are running in a slight depression that increases fuel consumption. Stiffer pavements produce less rolling resistance and better fuel economy.

To address infrastructure funding issues, MIT researchers have developed data to help determine the real cost of pavement during its useful life. Life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is a tool used to assess the total cost throughout the life of a construction project. It includes both initial construction and the future cost of maintenance and rehabilitation. Hub researchers have demonstrated the importance of accounting for the uncertainty in future material prices in assessing life-cycle costs.

These same issues surface in homes and commercial buildings. Another workshop, “Buildings: Quantifying life cycle cost, environmental impact, and hazard resistance,” addresses the need to include hazard resistance in building design decisions, especially in light of the increase in damage caused by recent natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy. CSHub research is finding ways to determine the long-term benefits of resilient and energy-efficient construction.

For more information on the Showcase, or to register, visit

About CSHub
The MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub, CSHub, brings together leaders from academia, industry, and government to develop breakthroughs in concrete science and building technology that will achieve durable and sustainable homes, buildings, and infrastructure in ever more demanding environments. The MIT CSHub is a research center established at MIT in collaboration with the Portland Cement Association and the Ready Mixed Concrete (RMC) Research and Education Foundation. 

Concrete is a fundamental part of the buildings where we live and work and the infrastructure that connects us. According to the United Nations, there will be over nine billion people on Earth, 70 percent of whom will live in urban areas. Massive urbanization calls for smart decision making in public transportation, housing, and other integral infrastructure project. Concrete will play a key role in meeting the needs of the growing population sustainably and economically.

About PCA
The Portland Cement Association, based in Washington, D.C., with offices in Skokie, Ill.,  represents cement companies in the United States. It conducts market development, engineering, research, education, and public affairs programs. For additional information, visit

About RMC Research & Education Foundation
The mission of the RMC Research and Education Foundation, based in Silver Spring, Md., is to support research and educational programs that will increase quality, professionalism and environmental stewardship in the ready mixed concrete industry for the benefit of the citizens of the United States. For additional information, visit


For media inquires please contact Holly Arthur at or 202-719-1979.




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