Safe Homes Group Publishes Resilience Study
Earlier this winter, the nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) released its latest paper, Understanding the Intersection of Resilience, Big Data, and the Internet of Things in the Changing Insurance Marketplace.
The paper explains how the disaster-resistant housing movement can benefit from better information sharing, specifically how big data (telemetrics, smart homes, etc.) can be applied to the science of building safer homes.
The research was originally presented to an international audience of insurance and reinsurance industry leaders at a trade show in Australia but has been adapted for a U.S. audience.
The paper can be downloaded in PDF format at no cost from their website, http://flash.org.
NRMCA Certifies 2,000 Green Mixes
In October, the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) completed its 2,000th Environmental Product Declaration (EPD).
These product declarations are intended to help concrete producers meet standards set by green building rating systems such as LEED v4 and the International Green Construction Code (IgCC). EPDs are third-party verified (certified) reports published by product manufacturers that provide quality assured and comparable information regarding environmental performance of their products.
"Architects and engineers are requesting EPDs for building products," explains Lionel Lemay, who manages NRMCA's EPD program. "With EPDs, they can objectively compare the environmental impacts of the products they specify against an industry benchmark."
He notes that even projects not necessarily pursuing LEED certification are beginning to specify EPDs to quantify and lower environmental impacts of projects.
Cement Giants Merge
Two of the largest cement manufacturers in North America have combined global operations. Holcim, with world headquarters in Switzerland, and Lafarge, its French-based competition, agreed to a "merger of equals" last summer. The deal was finalized in December 2015 and the new corporation, LafargeHolcim, is now the world's largest producer of cement products. The Wall Street Journal conservatively estimates its value at $25 billion.
To satisfy U.S. and Canadian regulators, the company sold off a dozen facilities in order to preserve competition in 14 key markets. These include cement plants and terminals in Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, Memphis, Chicago, and Boston. Canadian facilities divested as part of the merger are two cement terminals in Alberta and a cement plant in Mississauga, Ontario.
Even with the divestitures, LafargeHolcim expected to control the majority of the North American cement market.
Eric Olsen, formerly vice-president of operations at Lafarge, is serving as CEO of the combined corporation. Alain Bourguignon, who previously oversaw North American operations at Holcim, will retain responsibilities for the North American market.
Intertek Expands Services
Intertek, which tests construction products for compliance with codes and other building standards, has acquired a well-known consulting, engineering and testing company.
The acquisition of Professional Services Industries (PSI), broadens the company's offerings beyond testing and certification to include infrastructure, facilities engineering, and environmental assurance. PSI operates 100 testing laboratories in the USA.
The acquisition comes on the heels of Intertek's purchase of MT Group, a materials testing and specialty construction firm in New York.
"Joining the Intertek family is a huge development for PSI, our customers, and our industry," adds Murray Savage, CEO of PSI.
Overcoming Contractor Challenges 1 & 2
Last fall, ICF Builder Group commissioned the author to conduct a study of the biggest challenges ICF contractors face and recommend steps this ICF trade association could take to resolve those issues. The article below is the first of a two-part report summarizing the findings. —The Editor