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Cast-in-place concrete: building material of choice for over two millennia.

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In a real estate market so recently plagued with unstable financial instruments, unpredictable tax rates and constricted investment opportunities, it is comforting to know there are some factors that remain constant. Chief among them are the signature characteristics of cast-in-place reinforced concrete, which are strength, safety and sustainability.

From as early as 124 BC, with the building of the Roman Pantheon, to the completion of Building #7 of the World Trade Center, reinforced concrete continues to stand the test of time.

Concrete, inherently strong in compression and shear strength, is of course weak in tensile strength. However, the yield strength of steel is about 15 times the compressive strength of structural concrete and well over 100 times its tensile strength.

Therefore, concrete reinforced with steel creates a premier building material that is virtually indestructible, and seemingly limitless in its possibilities. Consider, if you will, the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It stands 2,717 feet high, dwarfing the steel framed Taipei 101, replacing it as the world's tallest building, and as such, becoming a monument to reinforced concrete technology.

If durability coupled with the flexibility of design considerations are not enough to convince the non-believer of the superiority of reinforced concrete construction, there is still the issue of environmental impact.

Cast-in-place construction significantly reduces the carbon footprint. Concrete is produced locally and, along with the steel that reinforces it, it is completely recyclable.

Reinforced concrete also provides a thermal barrier that prevents energy costs (both financial and environmental) from soaring. In fact, even greater strides Call be made in terms of "green" design if one looks at the possibilities available through the use of post-tensioning and voided slab systems.

These construction methods significantly reduce the quantities of rebar and concrete, use recycled materials, lower the cost of mechanical and curtain wall materials and labor, all while increasing saleable or rentable space.

In addition, while reinforced concrete structures have long been accepted as excellent blast protection, what is sometimes overlooked is their high level of fire resistance.

A solid concrete wall can withstand temperatures as high as 2000 degrees Fahrenheit for as long as 4 hours without failing structurally. And, a concrete wall as thin as five inches will retard the spread of fire for well over two hours. In short, concrete is one of the most fire and heat resistant materials available, as well as soundproof.

So, whether your primary concern is durability, the safety of the occupants and their guests, the environment at large, or a combination of all three, cast-in-place reinforced concrete can be seen as a viable answer to your design-build questions.

BY WILLIAM HOHLFELD

CONCRETE ALLIANCE, INC.
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Comment:Cast-in-place concrete: building material of choice for over two millennia.
Author:Hohlfeld, William
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 19, 2011
Words:448
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