Artisan Precast Fences In Eco-Friendly Barrier Market

Early in 2008, Los Angeles-based Artisan Precast revamped the mix design of its concrete fencing products to increase the use of fly ash, with an eye

Steven Prokopy

Early in 2008, Los Angeles-based Artisan Precast revamped the mix design of its concrete fencing products to increase the use of fly ash, with an eye toward making its line of precast walls and fences LEED certified by mid-2009. We have been so busy in the last year designing and building a new line of environmentally friendly molds for the fencing, plus making sure we are able to office these products in every market that wants them, we’re only now getting around to announcing our new offerings, says company CEO Craig Lewis.

He maintains that the company has always been conscious of the effect that building materials have on the environment from production to installation, including landfilling of waste products. By using eco-friendly products Û including non-VOC (volatile organic compounds) and mercury-free molds, water-based agents, and recycled materials to reduce the use of cement Û in the manufacturing process, the company has found a way to make a durable, aesthetically pleasing material, while reducing the product’s carbon impact.

Artisan’s products are fabricated using recycled cementitious material to reduce the cement component of the fencing and walls, yet yield a strength of 5,000 psi. Lewis estimates that their formulation means 30 percent less concrete than standard masonry block, depending on job and soil conditions, while using as much as 60 percent less concrete for the foundations. Our products don’t require the same foundation system, he notes. We have a pier system. Rather than trenching an entire fence, we bore a hole, set the post, and pour monolithic concrete to keep the post in place.

With piers spaced every four to five feet, for example, the walls or fencing fit between the posts. Walls can be built as high as 20 feet using this process. We can also use this for retaining walls, Lewis says. We’ve done a 14-ft. above-ground wall, with a 4-ft. below-ground retaining structure.

Artisan Precast’s wall and fence products are integrally colored in the factory, which eliminates the need for painting at the project site, thus avoiding VOC release from paints and stains. Further, as color is part of the concrete, ongoing plant maintenance is not required.

Although Lewis would not say exactly how many manufacturing facilities Artisan Precast currently operates, the company’s philosophy toward marketing and distribution is simple. In markets where we don’t have mold operations, we either build a plant if the interest level is high, or we place molds with a local precaster, says Lewis. We design and build the molds, and if we have to place them in markets. We also ship to fencing companies to sell and install the product. But, part of getting LEED points is that the product must be manufactured within 500 miles of the job.

Currently, Lewis says Artisan has seen major interest in its product line from utility companies, warehouses, shopping centers, distribution centers, military application, and now is in the process of setting up a manufacturing and distribution network even in China.