Work ethic takes center stage

We reflect this month on 2024 National Ready Mixed Concrete Association convention notables: Committee awards and Chairman Nathan McKean’s enthusiastic industry view. Here, we extend the Florida gathering’s salutes to NRMCA Executive Vice President, Operations and Compliance Gary Mullings, who has retired from day-to-day duty after 50-plus years with the organization. Luckily, he continues as a consultant, primarily assisting the…

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Steel, cement and foreign ownership

Under the pretense of concerns tied to the economy, infrastructure and national security, powerful interests oppose a takeover of United States Steel Corp. (USS) by Japan’s Nippon Steel Corp. The deal is set to close in the third quarter pending USS shareholder approval, voting for which is scheduled this month. In a statement following USS board acceptance of a Nippon…

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Performance specs drive dematerialization strategy

Building Transparency, the Seattle-based organization behind the environmental product declaration-fueled Embodied Carbon Calculator (EC3), raises a “less is more” premise for carbon emissions-minded architectural, engineering and construction professionals. Authors of its latest report, Manufacturers Guide to Embodied Carbon, frame “dematerialization” as a strategy where the lowest cost, lowest carbon footprint specification results from a design requiring less raw material per…

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Contractors reinforce arguments against White House PLA Mandate

The Associated General Contractors of America followed up challenges noted here last month to a Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council rule requiring Project Labor Agreements (PLA) on federal construction contracts exceeding $35 million. By offering perspectives on competition, federal labor and procurement statutes, and taxpayer dollar stewardship, the group exposes the dubious nature of what its counsel calls the PLA…

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Opponents craft compelling arguments against Project Labor Agreement rule

If major construction project permitting, workforce and procurement challenges were not enough, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council has injected additional complications by making good on a White House directive requiring Project Labor Agreements on 100-plus contracts annually where federal funds exceed $35 million. Administration officials argue that PLAs promote economy and efficiency by eliminating the risk of delay associated with…

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Credible carbon credits seed SCM capacity

This year closes with strong cement and concrete market indicators, especially considering investor enthusiasm for publicly held clinker capacity. Consider activity among New York Stock Exchange-traded operators since Labor Day: Summit Materials announced a cash and stock deal for Argos North America Corp., its $3.2 billion valuation reflecting cement production and distribution assets in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and West…

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California producers’ carbon volley

Two years of major gestures surrounding greenhouse gas emissions in cement and concrete production or procurement solidify California’s reputation for incubating policy. In October 2021, the California State Senate passed SB 596, charting a regulatory course for Golden State cement producers to attain net-zero carbon operations by 2045. The California Nevada Cement Association concurrently published an SB 596 action plan,…

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Valmont Utility: A credible conduit

Cement and concrete interests will be challenged to find a better manifestation of traditional and low-carbon era value propositions than our cover story subject, Valmont Utility’s superlative spun prestressed transmission and distribution (T&D) pole plant (pages 38-41). Beyond elevating the industry and its customers, the Bristol, Ind. operation conveys the right message about concrete at an ideal point:  Market development.…

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Build America, Buy America fine print contrasts cast-in-place, precast concrete

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has formally delineated Build America, Buy America (BABA) requirements as they relate to concrete materials for Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)-funded building or nonbuilding construction projects. Final BABA sourcing requirement guidance issued last month indicates procurement interpretations relating to cast-in-place and precast concrete. It puts to rest questions surrounding IIJA…

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Workplace heat-safety measures: Training vs. temperature triggers

Ahead of a month or more of vacation for some Washington, D.C. regulars, the White House instructed the Department of Labor to issue a first ever Hazard Alert in response to an unusually hot July. The agency will ramp up enforcement of heat-safety violations, increasing inspections in high-risk industries like construction, while its Occupational Safety and Health Administration belabors a…

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