By Claude Goguen, P.E., LEED AP
Something happened at The Precast Show 2013 in Indianapolis last January that had never been witnessed before: the presentation of the inaugural NPCA Sustainability Awards.
In keeping up with the demands of the construction industry, many NPCA members have adopted sustainable practices in their purchasing, manufacturing and shipping operations. Our industry has benefited from their actions, and it is in this spirit that the Sustainability Committee has created the NPCA Sustainability Awards.
The goal of this award program is to reward excellence in sustainable products, practices and operations within NPCA membership, and to publicize the overall progress of the precast concrete industry toward sustainability.
The awards are divided into four categories: Producer Plant, Producer Project, Associate Plant and Associate Product. The winners of each category for 2013 are as follows:
First Place – Sustainable Plant
Material Recycling Center
StructureCast, Bakersfield, Calif.
StructureCast is located just south of Bakersfield, Calif., about midway between the Los Angeles Basin and the Northern California population centers. With two other concrete producers located in the vicinity of its plants, the owners decided to create a concrete recycling facility that could serve their plants and the other facilities in the area.
The crushing and screening plant StructureCast set up was created primarily to recycle the remnant concrete and washout from the three area plants. In 2010, the site began to accept waste concrete from construction sites in the area and waste asphalt from nearby road projects. The crushed and screened product is then resold as road base to paving contractors, while the steel reinforcement is recycled at scrap iron centers. Today, the four-acre site is operated by three men about 15 days per month and sells about 10,000 tons of road base per month.
The project offers a variety of sustainability benefits, including the reuse of waste, meaning less construction refuse entering landfills and less need for mining of new materials. In addition, the site is just four miles from the city center – compared with 45-65 miles to the areas where rock deposits are mined – which means less transportation costs and emissions.
The recycling project is welcomed by state and local agencies, as 100% of the materials recycled are reused in right-of-way construction.
First Place – Producer Project
Pomona College South Campus Parking Structure
StructureCast, Bakersfield, Calif.
Pomona College, located in Claremont, Calif., wanted to free up space for further campus expansion by using old lots for new building sites. Two architectural firms partnered to design a two-story, 318,000-sq-ft parking garage with 608 spots that opened in July 2012. However, it is more than just a parking garage; it is an example of a growing trend to integrate parking facilities with their environments.
Not only was the southeast corner of the garage bermed so that it fuses into the campus, the architects also incorporated a soccer field into the design of the roof. StructureCast supplied 165 architectural precast panels to this LEED Platinum project.
The panel finishes were medium aggregate exposure and used a specially selected natural stone and a tan color pigment. The architectural features, including colors and textures, were designed to blend into the area’s natural environment.
In addition to the panels, StructureCast manufactured unique roof-level spandrels with integrated benches that allow spectator seating for the rooftop field.
While the concept of a sustainable parking garage seems to be somewhat of an oxymoron, the garage at Pomona College implements elements that make it environmentally friendly. By doing this, Pomona College ended up with not only a durable and aesthetically pleasing garage, but one that matches up with the ongoing campus initiative to go green and to become a more pedestrian-friendly campus.
First Place – Associate Plant
Implementation of a New Recycling Program
M.A. Industries Inc., Peachtree City, Ga.
The M.A. Industries manufacturing plant was generating an excess amount of waste and was in need of a recycling program. All waste was classified as trash and hauled away in a 30-yd dumpster, including items that could have been recycled. This was resulting in costs of approximately $55,000 a year. Reducing the amount of trash by separating the recyclables would reduce the yearly cost of waste removal. A core team was formed to take on the task of developing a project to reduce waste cost by 25% through the recycling of paper and cardboard products. They developed a timeline with a targeted completion date of February 2012. Working with M.A. Industries employees, the team collected data on waste generation and disposal.
First they replaced the cardboard boxes with self-dumping hoppers, which reduced the amount of discarded cardboard. Also, recycling bins were provided throughout the office so that employees could participate in this initiative. Cardboard, cellophane and clean paper products were segregated from other waste for recycling.
As a result of these efforts, the 30-yd dumpster that had been emptied two to three times per week at a rate of $375 each time was replaced by an 8-yd dumpster emptied once a week at a rate of $100 per month. This not only resulted in a more sustainable and environmentally friendly operation, but also saved M.A. Industries $53,400 per year in costs.
First Place – Associate Product
Nycon-G Reinforcing Fiber for Precast Panels
Nycon Corp., Fairless Hills, Pa.
In an effort to create a greener fiber product, Nycon Corp. invented Nycon-G using 100% reclaimed, post-consumer and post-industrial waste carpet. Nycon-G can be used for decorative purposes as well as construction purposes. Nycon-G goes through a patented process to reclaim the nylon from waste carpeting to create a sustainable building material. Nycon-G not only keeps waste out of landfills by reclaiming nylon from used carpeting, it is also a beneficial additive to concrete for crack control, complying with the AC32 requirement.
In one example, it was used in a large-scale project at the Heldrich Hotel and Conference Center in New Brunswick, N.J., where 500 precast concrete panels used in the project were produced with the Nycon-G fiber as reinforcement. The fiber offers precasters the ability to create an excellent, “no fuzz” finish and improves the impact-, shatter- and abrasion-resistance of the concrete as well.
The use of this reinforcing fiber contributed to obtaining the highest LEED rating for the Heldrich Hotel and Conference Center, while contributing to the overall quality and aesthetics of the structure.
The Sustainability Committee is proud to have the opportunity to recognize the pioneer companies in our industry that have adopted sustainable practices. By shining the spotlight on these producer and associate members, it is the committee’s hope that their initiative and leadership will inspire others to follow and therefore contribute to the sustainability of precast concrete products.
The committee will soon be looking for entries for the 2014 Sustainability Awards. If you are interested or have questions regarding the program, please contact Claude Goguen at [email protected] or at (800) 366-7731.