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PCI Chairman Force stresses new markets, education, sustainability

Source: CP Staff

While the still slumping economy continues to be a point of focus throughout the construction industry, newly elected Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute Chairman Greg Force, president & chief operating officer of Tindall Corporation, gives all credit to his predecessors who were "forward-thinking and conservative" in their approach to running the organization in the early days of the financial downturn. "They took the necessary steps to consider how we would function with reduced revenues," he explains. "As a result, at this time fiscally, the Institute is in good shape."

According to Force, most companies are turning over any rock they can in the hopes of finding new business, perhaps in areas where they had not looked before. "I've been in the industry nearly 30 years, and I know that one of the challenges is asking, 'How can we make this out of precast, and how can we do it better than the more traditional types of construction?'" he says. "I've heard people talk about making log cabins out of precast, and they're very successful with that. I'm also hearing about projects in transportation, including high-speed rail and prefabricated or precast pavement, in addition to things in the bridge industry Over the past several years, there has been much more reliance on work in the public sector, particularly with military construction."

Although still in its earliest stages, PCI formally launched a pilot Sustainable Plant Program for producer members. The Institute released details on its tracking tool and guidance documents at its 2011 Salt Lake city convention. "It's a purely voluntary effort, but our Quality Assurance Council, Sustainability Council, and our Pant Certification Committee worked collaboratively to come up with a list of things that plants could be doing to make a plant be of maximum benefit to the overall construction team in terms of being able to prove its influence on sustainability. That is being rolled out this year at a number of plants, and it's going to evolve until it becomes part of our certification process, I believe," Force explains.

PCI's continuing education program continues to see an increased number of attendees to such events as monthly webinars, including the recent "Perspective Gained from the Earthquakes of Japan, Chile and New Zealand," which drew more than 400 participants, according to Force. In addition, the second edition of the Seismic Design Manual was released in conjunction with the Structural Engineering Institute Congress in Chicago at the end of March; it should be available electronically and, in limited quantities, hardcover format.

Force adds that PCI recently instigated a life-cycle assessment project that will project, cradle-to-grave, the environmental and energy performance of a typical precast structure over its lifetime. Initiated by the Institute's Sustainability and R&D Councils, this comparison on comparable precast, cast-in-place and steel structures looks at a range of energy and environmental impacts.