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Leading the Way – Part Three

World Cement,

This is part three of a 4-part article. To read part one, click here. To read part two, click here.

Q What do you see as the most immediate challenges – or, indeed, threats – to the US cement industry? How does PCA plan to tackle these?

John Stull: One of the cement industry’s challenges in the US revolves around the passing of a long-term, robustly funded federal highway bill. The public construction sector is a significant user of cement and ensuring its ability to continue to improve the US infrastructure is vital for the continuity of the cement industry. To promote this, the PCA continues to work diligently with its stakeholders and cooperatively with other associations, including the National Ready Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA) and the National Sand, Stone and Gravel Association (NSSGA), to ensure passage of a bill that allows federal and state government to make long-range infrastructure plans. The Association strongly believes that to achieve a sound investment of taxpayer dollars, legislation authorising infrastructure construction and reconstruction using durable and resilient materials should be passed. 

Jim Toscas: The most serious threat I see, which is really a threat to the entire built environment, is the intrusion of short-term thinking, and even political influence, into the engineering and design realm. Specifically, governments and building owners are increasingly making decisions regarding the design and funding of buildings and infrastructure with an eye toward short-term benefit at the expense of long-term service. We’re becoming a “kick-the-can-down-the-road” society, addressing today’s needs with band-aid solutions that place increasing burdens on future citizens. This is contrary to the philosophy that built our nation and our civilisation, and is not sustainable.

It is important for us to educate decision makers on the importance of developing structures and infrastructure that are safe, resilient and durable. I think that the only way to effectively address this problem is through information and education, and in today’s information-saturated society, it’s increasingly difficult to get people to pay attention to these important issues.

Q What is PCA currently working on?

JS: PCA is continuing to work with MIT on its research around the use of concrete – specifically around resilient buildings, longer lasting pavements and low impact materials production. As an example, the research in the area of new paving solutions is showing some exciting results, including that the use of concrete to produce stiffer pavement has a positive effect in reducing energy consumption. These research results are being shared with both state and federal government agencies in the hope of evolving the building and refurbishing of these roads. We are excited to see how these discussions continue to develop.

This is an excerpt from the interview published in World Cement’s IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Industry Technical Conference Supplement. To read the final part of this article, click here.

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