Smart Focus | Focus on Energy Spurs Innovation

Elizabeth Young, Managing Editor, Associate Publisher, LEED Green Associate

Smart Focus

Elizabeth Young

In the Next Issue


Mitigating Liability Police Stations K-12 School Design CMU – Commodity vs Essential

Advantages of the Unparalleled Structural Wall System

Focus on Energy Spurs Innovation

Regardless of the United States’ official participation in the Paris Climate Agreement, industries including design and construction have made a paradigm shift toward transparency and accountability in an effort to reduce the energy demand of buildings (about 40% of the national usage). Masonry is no exception.

Inherently environmentally friendly and with centuries of endurance to boast, masonry materials continue to evolve to meet the demands of the 21st Century markets. Innovation is happening in all areas of the masonry industry and this issue showcases many of the extraordinarily impactful ways.

Embarking on its hundredth year, the National Concrete Masonry Association has been instrumental in the growth and development of CMU in part through funding of research and advocacy by its Foundation. NCMA Board Member and President of Barnes & Cone Rick Roach explains just how this worked in bringing about changes to ASTM C90, Standard Specification for Load-bearing Concrete Masonry Units, that allows for improved thermal energy performance of CMU, while also potentially reducing the amount of material required for manufacture and benefiting the health and safety of the masons who lay the units.

St Marys Cement Masonry Manager Bill Barker walks readers through the differences between mortars and how they have changed over time. No two are the same and generalities about ingredient content, production methods and carbon footprint should not be assumed or conflated with cement.

Also influencing job site efficiency through mason productivity as well as health and safety is the new MULE block-laying assist robot by Construction Robotics. The company’s semi-automated mason (SAM) has been joining crews around the country laying brick at unprecedented speeds. The newest team member will assume responsibility of lifting most of the weight of the units being placed while the mason still positions them into the wall.

With all the material improvements taking place in the industry, we must not overlook the benefits designers and contractors are enjoying as a result of BIM-M developments. The Masonry Unit Database (MUD), introduced earlier in 2017 offered modelers the opportunity to add walls with actual size and shape units for better understanding of layout, patterning, ordering and other constructability issues. Products like Masonry iQ by 3DiQ, Inc make that faster, easier and fun.

Tools like the Carbon Calculator, introduced by the Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association, aim to bring transparency of the carbon footprint created in the manufacture of CMU. This is an important step for producers, contractors, designers and owners operating in carbon economies – a growing trend in Canada – and making decisions about material selection for buildings, explain industry consultants Andrea Boddy and Robert Munro. Individual companies, like Angelus Block, are following suit in the US and customizing calculators to geographic differences.

Mark McGinley, PhD, PE, FASTM, shares more of his research with readers. This time the focus is on masonry as part of an energy efficient choice for K-12 schools. Perceptions about masonry’s first costs are being used to open the door to other wall system options marketed as more energy efficient at a lower price to decision makers, challenging masonry in a sector where it has long reigned. Research shows energy efficiency at a lower price of other systems is not the case, and these other options do not always account for the cost savings masonry provides over the life of the building in terms of longevity, low maintenance and fire and other disaster resistance.

Warm Regards,

Elizabeth Young

Managing Editor, Associate Publisher

Article Archive
Elizabeth Young, Managing Editor, Associate Publisher, LEED Green Associate
With Carbon Calculator John Surratt
Sustainability, LEED, Green Construction Andrea Boddy, Robert Munro
Reducing Carbon Emissions from Cement Production Bill Barker
Scott Peters, Nate Podkaminer, RA
Study of Low Life-Cycle Cost Systems that meet Energy Performance Goals W Mark McGinley, PhD, PE,…