Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA), will be launching new resources, training programs, and educational content in Seattle, Washington as part of increased efforts to inform the design/build and construction communities about the advantages of concrete construction in the low- to mid-rise residential sector, and in general.
The launch of the Seattle programs comes on the heels of a legislative victory in February that saw the Washington State Legislature reject a bill that would have granted tax breaks for the use of a product known as cross laminated timber (CLT). In an oped for The Tacoma News Tribune, Allen Hamblen, president of CalPortland Co., a building materials and construction solutions provider to the Western United States and Canada since 1891, and the former chairman of the Board of Directors of NRMCA, argued that subsidizing CLT’s as a construction material is not only dangerous because “wood rots, molds and, worst of all, it burns,” but because architects will be incentivized to prioritize the price differential over safety. As part of the “Build with Strength” launch, multi-media content will be shared throughout the month that highlight the strength and durability of concrete and concrete products, especially when compared to wood construction.
“Even in the timber industry’s backyard, it’s critically-important for the design/build community to know why building with strength is the only way to assure long lasting, safe and cost effective construction,” says Kevin Lawlor of Build With Strength. “With concrete, the advantages are clear as day: durability and strength cannot be substituted with wood simply because wood is abundant and cheap.”
Last year, Washington State experienced the largest wildfire season in its history, claiming 176 homes and burning more than a million acres. Yet buildings constructed with concrete, like Okanogan County resident John Belles’ home, were left standing after the inferno tore through the countryside. Build with Strength hopes to extend this type of safety and durability into the booming low- to mid-rise residential market.
“As Washington and the entire Pacific Northwest enter wildfire season, the onus is on those with the means to make a difference to ensure Washington State’s buildings are constructed with strong and resilient materials,” Lawlor says.