Energy Manager

CCMPA provides green funding to Canadian schools

Researchers at McGill University are working on a green production process for concrete block that—if put into use across Canada and the U.S.—could reduce our collective CO2 footprint by more than 3.2 million tonnes per year, according to the Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association (CCMPA). The CCMPA is supporting the research with an in-kind donation of staff and materials totalling $31,200 a year.


“The project has just started in January (2010), but so far the results are promising,” said Professor Yixin Shao of McGill's Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics. Shao explained that the process being developed uses carbonation rather than traditional steam to cure concrete block, using manufactured aggregates (sand and gravel) to help achieve carbon sequestration targets. In addition to reducing emissions, the process itself uses less energy than steam curing. “If such a process could be applied to all blocks in Canada and U.S., the environmental, economic and technical benefits would be tremendous,” added Shao.


The CCMPA says this kind of program development bodes well in today's economy—one that is digitally-enabled but is grappling with an aging workforce and, as a result, ongoing attrition in many skilled trades. The CCMPA says its support, therefore, is not only about innovating and advancing production, but also ensuring that the industry itself remains strong.


The seismic response of masonry is a key focus of the research currently underway at the University of Calgary and Hamilton’s McMaster University. In Calgary, CCMPA funding of $250,000 over five years is allowing researchers to develop and conduct tests that measure the resilience of historic masonry structures such as the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa and the Prince of Wales Fort near Churchill, Manitoba.


The seismic testing at McMaster University, which houses the largest masonry-research team in North America, involves the use of an industrial-grade concrete block production machine purchased in 2008 using $200,000 in CCMPA funds. McMaster is now producing test blocks for use at its own facilities as well as for donation to other schools.


“Canada’s masonry producers manufacture some of the best products and work to some of the highest standards in the world,” said Paul Hargest, President of the CCMPA. “It’s because of research like this that these products are good, and our buildings are as safe and as durable as they are. The fact that they can withstand our harsh Canadian climate—snowstorms, heat waves, earthquakes and all—is a testament to their strength, as well as that of our industry. We intend to keep it that way."


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September 13, 2010  By  John Gilson

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