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Concrete With Self-Healing Powers

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At the Annual Meeting of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) in Washington, D.C., Prof. Christian Grosse from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Prof. Mo Li from the University of California (Irvine), and Prof. Erik Schlangen of Delft University of Technology talked about smart materials for sustainable infrastructure.

Grosse talked about a European Union research project on creating concrete that automatically repairs small cracks. Permanent loading and variations in temperature can cause small cracks to form in concrete. Grosse, chair of non-destructive testing (NDT) at TUM, said the cracks do not usually pose any direct threat to the stability of structures, “However, water and salts can penetrate the concrete (through such cracks) and damage the affected components.”
Traditional repairs to infrastructure are expensive and can result in long traffic jams. In the EU research project HealCON, an international team of researchers is working toward the development of concrete that can repair itself. The scientists are examining three different self-healing mechanisms.

Bacteria as mini construction workers

Certain bacteria produce calcium carbonate as a metabolic product. The scientists soak balls of clay with the spores of these bacteria and mix the balls into concrete. Once water penetrates the concrete, the microorganisms become active and release calcium carbonate, one of the main components of concrete. “The bacteria can close cracks of up to a few millimeters in width in a matter of a few days,” says Grosse.

Hydrogels as gap fillers

Hydrogels are polymers that absorb moisture. They are used in diapers, among other things. Materials containing hydrogels can expand up to 100 times their original size. Cracks that form in concrete can be healed by a hydrogel that expands when it comes into contact with moisture, thus preventing the water from penetrating further without expanding the cracks.

Greater strength thanks to epoxy resin

Epoxy resins or polyurethane can be encapsulated and mixed into the concrete. When the concrete cracks, the capsules break open and the polymer is released. It forms a hard mass that seals the crack. It also has a positive side-effect: It increases structural stability.
Looking into concrete

Grosse and his colleagues specialize in testing how well these healing agents work in individual cases using non-destructive testing methods, such as acoustic emission technology.

When concrete cracks under pressure, it generates acoustic waves, which are measured using sensors. Using the measurement data, scientists can establish the precise location of the cracks. Following the healing process, the researchers carry out the experiment again. If the healing process was not successful, there are few new acoustic waves, as the cracks are still there. If the cracks have been filled, new ones arise – but in different places. “The localization of the crack sounds clearly indicates whether a remedy works or not,” explains Grosse.

Testing structural components using ultrasound

While acoustic emission analysis is suitable for laboratory applications, a different technology must be used for real-world on-site testing of large concrete components. “In this case, we use continuous ultrasound pulses,” Grosse said.

Scientists measure the time required for ultrasound pulses to propagate through the concrete. Cracks prevent the transmission of the signal, which as a result needs more time to traverse the material. If the cracks have been filled, the pulses go through the material faster again. The strength of the signal also declines noticeably in the case of damaged material.

Promising results in creating self-healing concrete have been obtained from experiments carried out under laboratory conditions. The next stage will involve the use of the self-healing material in building actual components for bridges or tunnels. If the technologies succeed in real world application, they will have to be adapted for use in standard concrete production and construction methods.

Nonresidential Construction Market Momentum to Continue

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Construction spending greatly exceeded expectations in the nonresidential market in 2015, and this year should see healthy growth levels as well, agree all of the members of the American Institute of Architects Consensus Forecast Panel. There continues to be significant demand for hotels, office space, manufacturing facilities and amusement and recreation spaces.

The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) semi­annual Consensus Construction Forecast, a survey of the nation’s leading construction forecasters, is projecting that spending will increase just more than eight percent in 2016, with next year’s projection being an additional 6.7% gain. Leading the way will be double-digit growth in hotels, office space, industrial facilities, and amusement & recreational facilities.

“While rising interest rates could pose a challenge to the U.S. economy, lower energy prices, improved employment figures and an enacted federal budget for 2016 are all factoring into a very favorable outlook for the construction industry,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker. “And after several years of challenging economic circumstances the institutional project sector is finally on very solid footing.”

Market Segment Consensus Growth Forecasts          2016     2017

  • Overall nonresidential building                                         8.3%      6.7%
  • Commercial / industrial                                                      9.9%      7.5%
  • Hotels                                                                                    14.8%     7.8%
  • Office space                                                                          12.8%      8.8%
  • Industrial facilities                                                              11.9%      5.3%
  • Retail                                                                                       7.5%      5.6%
  • Institutional                                                                          6.7%      6.7%
  • Amusement / recreation                                                  11.2%       7.7%
  • Healthcare facilities                                                           6.6%       6.9%
  • Education                                                                             6.5%       6.6%
  • Religious                                                                               2.6%       4.0%
  • Public safety                                                                        1.8%       4.2%

The Consensus Construction Forecast Panel consists of economists from Dodge Data & Analytics, Wells Fargo Securities, IHS­Global Insight, Moody’s economy.com, CMD Group, Associated Builders & Contractors and FMI.

To see each of the individual forecasts, follow the link: http://info.aia.org/aiarchitect/2016/charts/jan2016/ccf_012916.html

The AIA Elevates 149 Members and Eight International Architects to the College of Fellows

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The 2016 Jury of Fellows from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) elevated 149 AIA members to its prestigious College of Fellows. Among them was Philip Durham of St. Louis. The title of “Fellow” is an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to architecture and society on a national level. The 2016 Fellows will be honored at an investiture ceremony at the AIA Convention in Philadelphia in May.

Out of a total AIA membership of nearly 88,000, fewer than 3,200 are distinguished with the honor of fellowship and honorary fellowship. Durham received the honor for promoting the esthetic, scientific, and practical efficiency of architecture.

The 2016 Jury of Fellows consisted of:

Diane Georgopulos, FAIA, Chair, Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency; Steve Crane, FAIA, VCBO; Marleen Kay Davis, FAIA, University of Tennessee; Mary Katherine (Mary Kay) Lanzillotta, FAIA, Hartman Cox Architects; David Messersmith, FAIA, University of Texas; Karen V. Nichols, FAIA, Michael Graves & Associates, and Donald T. Yoshino, FAIA, Yoshino Architecture, PA.

Integrated Facility Services Completes $8 Million HVAC, Piping and Building Automation systems Project at Spartan Light Metal

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Integrated Facility Services (IFS) in Columbia, formerly Air Masters, has completed an HVAC, process piping, and building automation systems project for the $8 million office and plant expansion at Spartan Light Metals in Mexico, Missouri.

The 68,000-square-foot expansion included a complete renovation of the existing plant offices, a new office addition and a new manufacturing area. IFS installed HVAC in all areas as well as building automation systems. They also installed process piping in a utility tunnel within the new manufacturing area, for future process equipment.

Spartan, a family-owned automotive parts supplier, currently employs 300 workers at the plant in Mexico, MO, and expects to add another 88 jobs as a result of the expansion.

Air Masters Corporation in Columbia rebranded on January 1 as Integrated Facility Services (IFS), their corporate holding company name. The rebranding is part of a corporate initiative to better align the company name with IFS’ integrated range of facility services including HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, building automation and building security systems.

Integrated Facility Services (IFS) is a full-service mechanical contracting and service firm providing HVAC design and installation, plumbing, commercial refrigeration, fire protection, energy conservation and building automation services.

Microgrid Energy Awarded Certificate of Merit in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge

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St. Louis-based Microgrid Energy was recognized and awarded with a Certificate of Merit by the St. Louis Green Business Challenge (GBC). The award recognizes sustainable business practices and is the GBC’s highest level of recognition. This is the second year in a row that Microgrid has been honored with the award, and the company celebrated the highest point gain in the small tenant category of the GBC Class of 2015.

As a joint program of the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Missouri Botanical Garden, the GBC supports integration of sustainability measures into the everyday operational practices common to every business. Over sixty companies, nonprofits, and governmental agencies participated in the GBC, identifying and adapting strategies to improve financial performance and engage employees in voluntary measures to reduce their environmental impact. Over 150 companies, representing 130,000 employees, have participated in the program since its inception in 2010.

“The Green Business Challenge continues to push Microgrid Energy’s green efforts to higher levels, and plays an important role in our Triple Bottom Line approach to doing business – having a positive impact on People, Planet and Prosperity,” said Microgrid Energy Director of Triple Bottom Line, Chad Schubert.

“Our Triple Bottom Line approach is a key component to our company culture, and we believe it’s one of the secrets to our success. Our employees embrace this approach fully and the enthusiasm and dedication of our Green Team is what enabled us to win this award two years in a row. It’s been a pleasure to participate in the Challenge and work with such a great team,” said VP of Business Development at Microgrid Energy, Steve O’Rourke.

The following are some of the accomplishments and innovations implemented by Microgrid in the past year:

  • Co-sponsored Maplewood’s EPA Green Power Community Challenge – the most successful in Missouri to date
  • Successfully completed B Corporation recertification, and was national “Best for the Environment” honoree
  • Completed installation of occupancy sensors throughout the office, and worked with landlord to install insulation in uninsulated wall cavities
  • Worked with office supply company to consolidate office supply purchases and deliver supplies in reusable totes
  • Held company-wide electronics drive
  • Hosted a waste-free company event
  • Established a program to enable online monitoring of print usage
  • Employees volunteered to provide mentorship to local schools in the USGBC’s Green Schools Quest program
  • Partnered with First Watch Cafe to host Bike to Work Day rest stop
  • Provide volunteer assistance to several of our nonprofit clients to clean their solar arrays and provide other support.

Microgrid Energy is a leading renewable energy and energy efficiency installer with a national reach, based in St. Louis, MO, offering turnkey services for commercial, institutional, and government clients.

State Rep. Wants Unions to Report Anyone They Try to Recruit

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Missouri State Representative Courtney Curtis (District 73), who says he stands “98 percent behind unions,” has filed a bill to make it harder for unions to organize and to invalidate any existing project labor agreement for a future stadium.

The bill, H.B. 2170, would require unions to report to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations the name, telephone number or email address, and age of every individual that they try to recruit during the year.

The bill also would bar any executive action creating a project labor agreement “on any stadium project, the public funding of which is not submitted to a public vote.” Instead, the proposed legislation would require the local legislative approval by a board of aldermen, city council, or similar elected board of a project labor agreement. Such agreements could not require that employees covered by the agreement pay any kind of dues or fees to the unions representing them, but must require the performance of at least 20 percent of all work by apprentices.

Curtis said in a press statement that H.B. 2170 was the subject of the argument between him and Rep. Michael Butler (District 79) in late January that escalated into a physical confrontation.

Last year, Curtis filed a “right-to-work” bill in the legislature. He insists that unions continue to deny minorities equal access to construction jobs, a claim that unions deny, and that his bills would make unions stronger.

H.B. 2179 available for review here

Treanor Architects And H+L Architecture Merged

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Treanor Architects (Treanor), a national design firm headquartered in Lawrence, KS, with an office in St. Louis, and H+L Architecture (H+L), a  planning and design firm headquartered in Denver, have entered into an agreement to merge their firms effective as of January 1, 2016.

H+L and Treanor will temporarily maintain their existing names, but will work together during the coming months to develop a new branding identity that will encapsulate the culture and history that unite these distinguished architecture firms.

“This is an exciting time for H+L and Treanor. This merger is not simply of like size firms, but of common philosophies, common values and complementary talent. Our current practice areas are very well balanced and we will be able to add more depth of expertise for our clients,” said Dan Rowe, President of Treanor Architects. “We will benefit from the depth of knowledge and expertise within the Healthcare Studio and look forward to the growth in our other combined practice areas.”

“We are extremely excited to be merging with such an exceptional team of architects and designers,” said Scott Kuehn, President of H+L Architecture. “Combining teams with portfolios as deep as our two firms is an amazing opportunity to continue to add to our depth of knowledge in all of the markets we are currently serving and continue creating spaces that inspire.  This is truly a win-win for H+L, Treanor and our clients. ”

The merger between Treanor and H+L will not only strengthen service offerings by the firm, but will also allow them to examine all aspects of customer service to ensure that they continue to offer top-tier customer service to all clients.

Announcements regarding milestones of the merger will be made public as necessary.

A St. Louis Jury Awards $4.1 Million in Asbestos Death of Wisconsin Electrician

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Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett wins award for mesothelioma victim’s widow

A St. Louis jury has awarded $4.1 million in damages to the widow of an electrician fromWestfield, Wisconsin, who died of complications from mesothelioma, a deadly lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Longtime electrician Keith Urbach died in 2012, about six months after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Jurors in the 22ndJudicial Circuit Court returned their verdict Jan. 25 following a one-week trial and nine hours of deliberations. They found that The Okonite Company of Ramsey, New Jersey, was 5 percent liable for Mr. Urbach’s death. Trial testimony showed that he worked with a fixture wire manufactured by Okonite that contained asbestos.

The case is Jean Urbach v. The Okonite Company, No. 1122-CC-10636.

Mr. Urbach worked as an electrician from 1963-2002 for several employers in Wisconsin and Illinois. His death so soon after diagnosis limited his attorneys’ ability to produce evidence of Mr. Urbach’s exposure to asbestos, although they were able to find co-workers who could testify that he had several possible sources of exposure, including through Okonite’s fixture wire, said Jay Stuemke, attorney for the family and a shareholder in Dallas-based Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett P.C.

Jurors determined that other companies were liable for the other 95 percent of his exposure. Notably, jurors assigned no responsibility to Mr. Urbach.

TAMKO Signs Endorsement Agreement With #1 Ranked American Tennis Player John Isner

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TAMKO Building Products, Inc. announced today that it has signed an endorsement agreement with the #1 ranked American male tennis player on the ATP Tour, Inc, John Isner.

“We are excited to have American tennis star John Isner become our brand ambassador,” said David Humphreys, President and Chief Executive Officer of TAMKO. “His ability on-court, his pursuit of success and his passion for the game make him an excellent representative for TAMKO.”

Isner is the #11 ranked player on the ATP World Tour and is currently the highest-ranked American male tennis player for the fourth straight season. He turned pro in 2007 and has amassed 10 ATP singles titles and three doubles titles.  John achieved a career-high ranking of #9 in 2012. Isner is known for having one of the fastest and most powerful serves in the game. He currently ranks 10th for the most aces in the history of the ATP. Isner also played the longest match in tennis history, at Wimbledon in 2010.

“TAMKO has such a distinguished past in construction and I am excited to begin my partnership with the brand,” said Isner. “My dad has used TAMKO products for years for his business, Greensboro Contracting, and to be partners with a brand that has been instrumental in the success of my family’s business means a lot to me.”

TAMKO Building Products, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest independent manufacturers of residential and commercial roofing products, decking and railing products, waterproofing, cements, and coatings.  

The Korte Company Begins Work On Facility At America’s Central Port – Madison, Il

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The Korte Company will begin construction on a 100,000 square foot design-build warehouse facility within America’s Central Port, located in Madison, IL, just 5 miles north of downtown St. Louis. The tilt-up structure, located at the region’s only full-service, public intermodal port, will include warehouse and office space for a private tenant.

America’s Central Port’s business and industrial park currently contains over 1.7 million square feet of rail-served warehouse space, and approximately 70,000 square feet of office space with access to the Mississippi River, four interstate highways and six Class I railroads. This new development is the first phase of an industrial park expansion project at the Port that calls for up to 1 million square feet of new rail-served warehousing space.

America’s Central Port continues to expand economic growth for the region. With access to rail, water and trucking transportation options, the Port offers an ever growing number of benefits and services to not only the St. Louis Metro area, but the entire Midwestern Region.

According to Todd Korte, President and CEO of The Korte Company, “We are pleased to be partnered with America’s Central Port, whose positive economic impact continues to benefit the entire area.”

The Korte Company, founded in 1958, is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with offices in Highland, Illinois; Norman, Oklahoma; and, Las Vegas, Nevada. The company manages, on average, an excess of $200 million in annual construction volume.

The Korte Company’s project expertise includes building for federal, state and local government agencies as well as the design and construction of healthcare facilities, medical office buildings, warehouse/distribution centers, religious facilities, commercial buildings, schools, recreation centers and office complexes.

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