Monday, March 9, 2009

March's Monthly Presentation - Structural Concrete Insulated Panels

This month's presentation at San Antonio Sustainable Living will be given by a long time friend of our group, and a good friend of mine, Herb Nordmeyer. I depended on his expertise on a strawbale residence near Blanco, and his knowledge of all things concrete would be difficult to beat. He joins us on Tuesday, March 24th to introduce us to Structural Concrete Insulated Panels (SCIP's). That's right, another acronym to learn. Herb works as a Project and Technology Manager for Best Masonry. Herb is considered a leading expert on pozzolanic chemistry and formulating cementitious products with pozzolans. A pozzolan is an additive to the cement hydration process (a silicate type of material) that combines with calcium hydroxide to form calcium silicates. Okay, chemistry class is over. These additives improve the performance of concrete and the type of pozzolan determines how the properties of a particular batch of concrete change. The first pozzolan was volcanic ash, and probably the most talked about pozzolan around green building types is today's fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal for power plants or cement curing.
Don't go away. Herb will not focus on pozzolans, but he will introduce to many of you a construction process that we may be seeing more of in the near future. SCIP's have been around since 1970, and are commonly used in third world countries. While there are several versions, in general they consist of an engineered wire cage, insulation in the center and a cementitious skin on each side. With a one inch thick layer cement plaster on each side of a panel, it reacts not unlike a solid reinforced concrete wall. Structures can be built to resist 180 mile per hour sustained winds, California brush fires, Formosa termites, and many other disasters, all for the cost of a 2 x 6 wood stud structure. Not only are they economical and disaster resistant, they are extremely durable, can include recycled material, and reduce utility bills.
With the devastation on Galveston Island due to Hurricane Ike last year, the presentation Herb will make was developed to let code officials, property owner associations, and city officials know that there is an economical building system available that could have prevented much of the devastation. This month, we meet at our regular time and place, from 7-8:30 pm in the classroom inside Whole Foods Market (behind the wine & cheese section) in the Quarry Shopping Center. See you then!

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