Whether the project is a new building or major renovation, sustainability is an increasingly important factor in decision-making. Whole-building life cycle assessment (LCA) makes it possible to look at all phases of a building, from material extraction through construction to decommissioning and, when possible, recycling into a ‘new’ useful material.
The U.S. construction industry is shifting perspectives from traditional building toward a green, more sustainable design sensibility. This approach includes building concrete structures that will last an appropriate lifespan with minimal maintenance and repairs—and this necessitates careful attention paid to the waterproofing strategies chosen.
Sealant is used in the exterior joints of every modern building, but usually incorrectly. Owners have high expectations for performance and durability, but premature sealant failure is common, resulting in air and water infiltration, property damage, and expensive repair work. Design details and installation practices contribute to the service life, but there is a bigger problem in the industry—many sealant products cannot resist movement and weathering, which are their core functions.
Many new water-resistive barrier (WRB) products are being introduced, including liquid-applied membranes. These new products join traditional wraps, self-adhered membranes, felts, and building paper, making for a crowded marketplace. A WRB will be concealed behind cladding, where it cannot be inspected, maintained, or replaced, so it must last for the design life of the building. However, will the new products be durable?
Bearing pads are used widely in precast concrete parking garages. They function as buffers between the separate concrete members to prevent damage and facilitate movement (much like cartilage between bones at joints). Bearing pads should last for the design life of the structure, but need to be replaced when they are not sufficiently durable. The ‘surgery’ to replace the pads properly is a complex operation, with few published guidelines.