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Concrete Plays Important Role in Construction Projects

By: Michael J. Berry, LEED AP, CHC

In the construction industry, concrete is most commonly used as the foundation for most structures. It is also used in superstructure construction through the use of structural concrete, slab construction, stair construction, and architectural features. These are just a few ways that concrete is implemented in construction.

When referring to concrete work, the typical application is through the use of cast-in-place concrete. Often times, foundations for structures are constructed of formed and reinforced footings, walls, piers, and columns or may be installed as surface drilled, earth bearing piers, caissons, or piles. Another way that concrete has been incorporated into construction is through the use of precast or tilt-up concrete construction, due to construction space constraints or the desire to accelerate schedule all while potentially enhancing quality control.

Concrete is used for many applications, including basic foundations, superstructures, wastewater treatment facilities, water treatment facilities, parking structures, floor construction, and exterior surfaces. Along with concrete, the form systems has evolved to allow for more efficient placement, large quantity placement, and architectural finish features that may be desired.

When referring to quality associated with concrete work, it may include the finished appearance, consolidation, or accuracy of the placement. While all of these are important, the quality goes much deeper. Concrete quality begins at the project’s conception while specifying appropriate strengths required to support the structure, concrete mix design ingredients, desired finishes, and the need to specify work that is constructible. When constructing with concrete, it is vital to properly understand the reinforcing requirements, accessory requirements, desired and achievable strengths, historical data relative to materials being used, proper placement of materials, and tracking of periodic trending strengths to ensure design parameters are being met.

In addition to strength, tolerance for concrete is critical. Consolidation of concrete and reinforcement coverage is paramount to avoid removal of in-place work and required structural corrective action. Slab placements may require a certain level of flatness depending on the required use of the space such as large warehouses with automated equipment being used where flatness is extremely important. When preparing to embark on concrete construction projects, it is important to properly pre-plan to ensure that the appropriate materials and equipment are used so as to produce the highest quality possible for the end user.

There are often times interfaces with other construction materials or other system components that are encountered. They may include reinforcement for structures bearing on the concrete, anchor points for structural steel, embedded accessories such as reinforcing couplings or embedded plates for steel, reinforcement for masonry construction, or support for masonry fa├žade construction. These again are just a few examples of how concrete can interface with other materials being used on projects. However, it adds another level to the importance of quality and accurate work so as to properly construct structures or portions so that other trades can properly install and complete their work.

As the foundation for most construction, it is extremely important to understand all aspects of concrete from concept to completion to ensure a quality installation.

Mike has worked in the construction industry for nearly 20 years. Leveraging long-term professional relationships with his clients, he brings significant experience and expertise in construction, scheduling, field engineering, commissioning, and management leadership. His experience includes projects ranging in size from small facility upgrades to stand alone buildings with construction values more than $175M. Mike understands and implements collaborative communication among all stakeholders. He has consistently managed projects challenged by the requirements of multiple funding sources, schedules, and high expectations of varied end-users.