Swederski Concrete Construction Refines Parking Lot Promotion

Asphalt price volatility has opened a window of opportunity for concrete pavement in mainline transportation work and parking lots, the latter a National

Don Marsh

Asphalt price volatility has opened a window of opportunity for concrete pavement in mainline transportation work and parking lots, the latter a National Ready Mixed Concrete Association target area. Among those leading the charge to promote concrete as the first choice for parking lots, or flip projects from asphalt to concrete, is Len Swederski. The head of Swederski Construction Construction Inc. (SCCI) in Illinois and Swederski Concrete & Paving LLC in the Carolinas, he is assisting NRMCA and state affiliates seize the market moment by educating architects, engineers, contractors and their customers on pavement life cycle costing, material price swings, and ACI 330R-08 Guide for the Design and Construction of Concrete Parking Lots.

Initial cost is not the true cost of any product. There is value to measure in every product you buy, Swederski told participants in Hard Facts About Pavement Design and Green Concrete, a late-July seminar staged near SCCI’s Spring Grove, Ill., headquarters (also note Editorial, page 4). The price of asphalt has always been tied to oil. The price of concrete has been stable for decades, and its only component with direct energy connection is cement. There is three times as much fuel required to place a ton of asphalt compared to [a half yard of] concrete.

Beyond historical pricing trends, Swederski told Hard Facts participants that asphalt pavement contractors have had better placing equipment than their concrete competitors. Laser-guided concrete screeds are among tools that have helped level the playing field, a point he covered as part of a discussion of ACI 330R-08 practice.

The program continued with another well-traveled concrete promoter, Ozinga Ready Mixed Concrete’s Brian Lutey, vice president of Green Building. His current work, plus Irving Materials and Indiana Ready Mixed Concrete Association tenure, have made him a leading authority on pervious pavement mix design, placement and maintenance. Using Ozinga’s proprietary Filtercrete as an example, he assured participants that pervious concrete a) is not like conventional slabs, nor is it as forgiving during placement and curing; b) requires specific training for ready mixed producers and contractors; c) most likely performs in a freeze-thaw environment assuming a target 0.30 water-cement ratio and minimum seven-day curing cycle; and, d) under the right ordinances can be delivered for about half the cost of a conventional asphalt parking lot with companion stormwater retention pond. To the latter point, he added that while pervious concrete harbors beneficial organisms that absorb most runoff pollutants prior to their reaching the ground, a pond typically accompanying an asphalt parking lot invites geese and mosquitoes.

Reinforcing environmental and life cycle cost messages, Lafarge Engineering & Architectural Specialist Julie Buffenbarger capped Hard Facts with discussion of the advantage concrete pavement has over asphalt when factoring urban heat island effect; new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) ratings for pavements; and, the importance of considering fly ash, silica fume and slag cement for ternary concrete mix blends in projects calling for sustainable design. Codes, standards, construction guidelines, training and certifications will play a significant role in development and acceptance of alternatives to ordinary portland cement concrete, she added.

The July gathering of 70 agency, design and construction professionals marked SCCI’s second Hard Facts installment. We are building awareness of the added value of concrete and volatility of the oil industry and its affect on asphalt pavement, says SCCI Business Development Manager Terry Alby, a veteran of ready mixed and aggregate in southeastern Wisconsin. We have several direct leads for jobs where the municipality or their outside engineering firm requests a concrete alternate. Or better yet, they make asphalt the alternate to concrete.

Future business relationships begin with a simple introduction while calling to invite guests to the seminar. Participants want to see concrete parking lot or street work performed and are interested in proof that our pavements perform.

Len Swederski continues his concrete vs. asphalt campaign this month, serving as an instructor for How to Build a Successful Parking Lot Construction Business, an August 20-21 seminar in Orlando. Joining NRMCA as sponsors are American Society of Concrete Contractors and Florida Concrete & Products Association.