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Low-Cost Apartment Plan Honored in 2012 Holcim Global Awards

Global Holcim WinnerA low-cost apartment project in Hamburg, Germany, that uses innovative techniques and materials including prefabricated lightweight-concrete elements with recycled foamed glass as an internal aggregate earned second place innovation honors in the 2012 Holcim Global Awards.  The monolithic structures are simple and lightweight, but remain formally complex and ambitious in delivering aesthetic impact.

The design scheme addresses the future of the city of Hamburg as a high-performing and attractive 21st century metropolis. It addresses the need for innovative building techniques and materials for a public housing project in a less developed neighborhood. The units range in size between 90-225 square meters and incorporate fast-growth fir decking slabs with pre-fabricated infra-lightweight concrete walls.

The lightweight concrete is one-third of the weight of conventional concrete, is self-insulated utilizing recycled foamed glass as an internal aggregate, and allows the building to approach a zero-carbon material effect. The walls are embedded with tube conduits to provide conductive heating and cooling via water, triple-glazing improves sound and heat insulation, and the roof is planted with local vegetation.

The jury identified the strength of the project in its innovative concept for construction and material. On top of that is an overall design scheme with competent solutions for a public housing development in every relevant aspect – an ambitious design and a zero-carbon energy concept even in the context of lower-income communities.  The Smart Material House was a collaborative project by German Barkow Leibinger Architects, Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, Technische Hochschule Berlin (TU Berlin), and Transsolar Energietechnik.

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PPI: Steel Drops, Concrete, Asphalt, Lumber Increase

March PPIIn March, the year-over-year change in the Producer Price Indices for steel, concrete, and asphalt increased 0.4 percent, 1.9 percent, and 11.3 percent, respectively. Steel and asphalt’s year-over-year percent changes have increased each month since early 2010. Lumber was down 0.5 percent from March 2011.

Steel’s PPI was down 0.6 percent from February, but the other building materials each increased from the prior month. Lumber showed the largest month-over-month gain at 2.0 percent, while concrete and asphalt increased 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent respectively.

The Producer Price Index graphs are available in the Competitive Materials Report.
Contact Michael Howard

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Holcim Ada Plant Celebrates Company Centennial with Community Outreach

The Holcim (US) Ada cement plant located in Ada, Okla., is participating in a year-long community service initiative to mark the centennial anniversary of its parent company, Holcim Ltd. 

The Ada facility is leading nine projects throughout the year, including employee-planned blood and toy drives, a recycling day, tutoring at a local school, partnering with Ada Boys and Girls Club, and coaching local baseball teams. Ada employees will also participate in other local programs including volunteering for Meals on Wheels, the Potomac Animal Welfare Society, and local Winter Smith Park beautification projects.

"The Centennial is an excellent opportunity to celebrate Holcim's mission," said Bernard Terver, president and chief executive officer of Holcim (US). "I commend Ada employees for creating such a strong and targeted program. They understand the needs of their community and have responded in a way which advances Holcim's values of strength, performance, and passion."

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PCA Presents Benefits of Limestone-Blended Cement at TRB

The efficacy of limestone-blended cements was a popular topic at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) meeting in Washington, D.C., January 22-26. Paul Tennis, manager of cement and concrete technology, presented the paper, Environmental Benefits and Performance Equivalence of Portland-Limestone Blended Cements that he co-authored with John Melander, PCA director of product standards and technology.

The paper notes limestone-blended cements are similar to portland cements in regard to properties such as strength development and setting time.  However, because they contain a proportion of uncalcined limestone as an ingredient, blended cements have a lower environmental impact.  It cited recent case histories from Canada and the U.S. (up to 10 percent limestone) as well as decades of use in European and other countries where cements with up to 15 percent limestone can be effectively used in concretes with or without SCMs and used as an ingredient in ternary blended cements.

Based on its popularity during the technical sessions, the TRB is planning to host a two-hour webinar on portland-limestone blended cements this summer. For the first time, TRB’s annual meeting reached the 12,000 attendee mark.  Participants included policy makers, administrators, practitioners, researchers, and representatives of government, industry, and academic institutions.
Contact Paul Tennis

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Global Holcim Awards for 2012 Winners Announced

Holcim Brazil WinnerLeading sustainable construction projects from around the world were selected from 15 finalist submissions for the Global Holcim Awards for 2012. The finalists placed in the regional Holcim Awards 2011 that were selected from more than 6,000 entries in 146 countries.

All 53 prize-winning projects at the regional level also competed for further prizes based on their contributions to sustainable construction through innovative building materials and construction technologies. The first Global Holcim Innovation prizes conferred by a jury of materials and industry experts went to projects in Switzerland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Gold for a school in Africa - A school project in Burkina Faso that integrates social and environmental performance won the top prize of $200,000. Passive cooling during oppressive summer heat creates an indoor climate conducive to learning by routing air through subterranean tubes, planting vegetation, stack-effect air currents, and using double-skin roofs and façades. The project provides jobs and training and restores the environment through reforestation.

Silver for Brazil - The Global Holcim Awards Silver was awarded to a project that transforms an eroded landscape into a productive zone and dynamic public space (shown above). The winning project includes a terraced public space with areas for urban agriculture, a water management system, a public amphitheater, a music school, a small concert hall, sports facilities, public spaces and transport infrastructure. It prevents further erosion and dangerous mudslides on the steep slopes and provides social and cultural infrastructure.

Bronze for the “Flussbad” project in Germany - An urban plan for transforming an under-utilized arm of the River Spree in Berlin into a natural 745m-long “swimming pool” won the Global Holcim Awards Bronze 2012. The Flussbad project in the heart of the historic city creates a swimming zone equivalent to 17 Olympic-sized pools, and provides a public urban recreation space for both residents and tourists adjacent to the Museuminsel. The project includes a reed bed natural reserve with sub-surface sand bed filters to purify the water.
Visit for more details on the winning projects

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PCA Offers Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures:  The Course

For more than 85 years ready-mix concrete personnel have relied on the Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures as a guide to applications, methods and materials.  Now this information is also available in a fast-paced, four-day course.

PCA has developed Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures:  The Course to provide fundamental yet practical concrete knowledge.  The session combines classroom instruction, lab demonstrations, and hands-on-learning to help ready-mix concrete employees meet their customers’ needs.

Like the publication, which was fully revised in 2011, the course highlights the many advances that have occurred in the concrete industry during the past decade while providing a concise, current reference on the fundamentals of concrete technology and construction.  

Backed by more than 95 years of PCA research, it addresses the essentials on freshly mixed and hardened concrete including  cements, supplementary cementing materials, aggregates, admixtures, air-entrainment, mixture proportioning, batching, curing, hot- and cold-weather concreting, high-performance concrete, and control tests for quality concrete.  In addition, newer topics such as sustainability, reinforcement, the properties of concrete, and durability reflect the latest information for the industry that will be covered. 

The course will be held June 4-7, 2012 in Skokie, Illinois. 
For more information or to order, visit the

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PCA's renowned reference on the fundamentals of concrete technology and construction has been fully revised with the latest industry standards/specs.


Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures: The Course
June 4-7, 2012
Skokie, Illinois
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ACI/PCA 318-11 Building Code
Cleveland, Ohio – April 25
Ft. Myers, Fla. – May 1
Salt Lake City – May 9
Kansas City, Kan. – May 23
San Diego – May 31
San Antonio – June 12
Albany, N.Y. – June 14
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Resilient Community Workshop
Sioux Falls, S.D. - April 17
Centennial, Colo. - April 19
Pewaukee, Wis. - May 15
Louisville, Ky. - May 17
Portsmouth, N.H. - May 30
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ASR Testing, Specification Management, and Mitigation from a Ready-Mix Perspective
San Diego - June 24
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Meetings and Events

PCA Spring Meeting
April 15-17, 2012
Rosemont, Illinois
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2012 Concrete Sustainability Conference
May 7-10, 2012
Seattle, Washington
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2012 IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Industry Technical Conference
May 13-17, 2012
San Antonio, Texas
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Chemistry of Cement and Concrete
May 14-18, 2012
Toronto, Ontario
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TCC Fly-In
May 30-31, 2012
Washington, DC
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PCA Professors Workshop
July 23-27, 2012
Skokie, Illinois
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PCA Fall Meeting
August 27-28, 2012
Rosemont, Illinois
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PCA Fall Board Meeting
November 11-13, 2012
Washington, DC
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The Portland Cement Association conducts market development, research, education, and government affairs work on behalf of its members—cement companies in the United States and Canada.

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