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PCA and CSHub research fuel efficiency and structural resilience

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World Cement,

The US cement industry is playing its part in reacting to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which states several areas where cement and concrete could help to reduce greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions. One such area is infrastructure. The US transportation sector burns more than 174 billion gallons of fuel each year, which accounts for 27% of total GhG emissions. MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSHub) is researching the impact of road surface on fuel efficiency and has found that employing a more rigid pavement design can reduce vehicle fuel consumption by 0.1 – 1%. Though this figure is small, the aggregated results are large when you consider that truck emissions alone amount to 425 million t of CO2 emissions each year.

Research has also shown that rough road surfaces decrease fuel efficiency, potentially increasing cars’ fuel consumption by 1000 – 30 000 gallons per year, depending on traffic volume, which is the equivalent of up to 300 t of CO2 per mile of road per year. Maintaining a smooth road surface reduces the resistance of the vehicle, lowers fuel consumption and therefore decreases related CO2 emissions.

In addition to CSHub research, the Portland Cement Association and others in the concrete industry are backing H.R. 2241, the Disaster Savings and Resilient Construction Act of 2013. This bill provides a tax credit to home or business owners who rebuild in local regions that were declared federal disaster areas following the advent of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy, the tornado that tore up Oklahoma or the wildfires that destroyed forest in Arizona. This aligns with the Climate Action Plan’s call for a panel on disaster-resilience standards to develop a comprehensive, community-based resilience framework and provide guidelines for consistently safe buildings and infrastructure.

“By enacting higher building standards, cities and towns can successfully weather any challenge and keep friends and family safe,” said Greg Scott, PCA president and CEO. “The nation spends billions of dollars each year for relief packages, and in this challenging economic climate, communities cannot afford to completely rebuild each time a disaster strikes. By utilising resilient construction techniques, the built environment is protected from the increasing number and severity of natural or man-made disasters.” The CSHub is also conducting research supported by PCA into the physical resilience of residential structures as a portion of the overall systems concept of resilience. Comparing this performance against costs will facilitate communication of the cost and performance trade-offs of alternative designs.

Adapted from PCA press release by


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