LAS VEGAS - Carolina AAC and Wehrhahn GmbH jointly announced that Carolina AAC will open its first plant to produce Autoclaved Aerated Concrete, an innovative energy-efficient building material. Spurred on by growing consumer demand and government mandates for green construction, the $20 million project will be located in Bennettsville, South Carolina, providing area architects, engineers and contractors with access to a sustainable, fire resistant, and environmentally friendly material that provides excellent temperature-controlling insulation.
AAC, used to create internal and external wall systems in residential and commercial structures, has been a predominant structural material around the world for several decades but is relatively new to the United States. At a time when the emerging green construction industry surges-even while traditional building markets continue to recover from the economic downturn-the Carolina AAC plant will supply AAC blocks suitable for projects seeking LEED or similar certification.
The Carolina AAC "smart" plant has been designed by Wehrhahn GmbH, a German company designing and manufacturing machines for the building material industry since 1892. Construction is underway on a 70,000 square foot facility planned with advanced automation technologies known as "smart manufacturing" which will allow Carolina AAC to produce AAC more efficiently than any existing North American facility. The "smart" technology will also allow the company to utilize more comprehensive and frequent measurements of the current state of the plant, and it provides tools to plan future operation with increased confidence. Wehrhahn has designed and furnished equipment for nearly 100 similar AAC manufacturing plants around the world.
Carolina AAC is strategically locating its first manufacturing facility in Marlboro County, S.C. because of the area's resource-rich environment, proximity to construction markets throughout the southeast, employment opportunities, and enthusiastic local government support. Charles Paterno, managing member of the company, said "I would like to applaud the efforts of the South Carolina Department of Commerce, the South Carolina Energy Office, the North Eastern Strategic Alliance (NESA), Marlboro County, and Marion County for working with Carolina AAC to ensure that we were able to locate in this area of South Carolina. Not only will our facility be in close proximity to its key raw materials, but our key location will allow us to ship to 80% of the United States market within 24 hours."
The project is the result of a combination of private investment, local and federal grants, loan funding, and assistance from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The company has received vital support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the S.C. Energy Office, the S.C. Department of Commerce and Coordinating Council for Economic Development, ArborOne Farm Credit, Marlboro Electric Cooperative, both Marlboro and Marion Counties in South Carolina, and the Marlboro County Transportation Committee.