Sustainability ENews Vol 11 #18 Masonry Innovation

The Masonry Society



Sustainability E-News

Masonry Innovation



September 30, 2019



Volume 11, Number 18






From The Editor

When you think of innovation, what comes to mind? Maybe something high tech like this solar panel that generates both electricity and clean water? The National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) Foundation wants you to think of masonry. Or more specifically of concrete block. Through their national unit design competition, the NCMA Foundation hopes to encourage innovation in concrete block manufacturing. You can read about the latest winners in the links under GREEN PRODUCT NEWS. Are you involved in other innovations in masonry products or design? If so, the International Masonry Institute's JBC Masonry Innovation Competition which "celebrates game-changing creativity and new ideas that have the power to propel growth within the industry" may be for you. With $30,000 in prizes, it's worth checking out before the December 15 deadline!


Christine "Tina" Subasic, PE, LEED AP


NOTE: Inclusion in this newsletter is not an endorsement of the products and materials featured, nor have these products been evaluated by TMS or the editor. Furthermore, the views expressed in the articles featured are those of the article authors.






The first two links below provide some good insights into achieving high performance with existing buildings. The first article provides tips on upgrading historic masonry buildings. The second provides case studies that achieve zero-energy in new and existing buildings. ~Tina


Historic masonry restoration best practices


Historic masonry buildings have common issues that architects, engineers, conservators, contractors, and owners are often challenged with evaluating and addressing. For this older building stock to continue being relevant in the modern era, modifications and upgrades are needed. Thoughtfully and appropriately designed restoration projects can preserve the integrity of a masonry building and continue its life for future decades. Read the article.


Report: Zero-energy buildings don't need to be expensive


A new report by the US Green Building Council Massachusetts Chapter challenges the notion that resilient and sustainable buildings are unattainable due to high costs. The use of readily available technology can slash energy use by as much as 54%, and in some cases can lead to a return on investment in as little as one year, the report says. Read more.


Radon caused more than 21,000 deaths last year


Radon causes more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. every year. Despite being totally preventable, radon is the number one lung cancer killer in nonsmokers. Radon is widely described as the primary source of indoor and household air pollution in the U.S. High radon levels are found in every state. Levels can vary widely, even from home to home in the same neighborhood. Read more here



Many jurisdictions seem to regularly skip a code cycle when considering updates to their codes. It's good to hear that many areas are beginning to catch up. Better code adoption and enforcement provide more resilient communities. ~Tina


Dozens of US cities enact more stringent building energy codes


Stricter energy codes for buildings are catching on in the US. In the last two years at least 30 cities have either instituted stricter codes governing the energy efficiency of new buildings or mandated stiffer rules for existing structures. Read more.


The top two finishers in the NCMA Foundation's unit design competition are featured below. ~Tina


Iowa State wins Unit Design Competition


The team of Noah Torstenson, Christopher Shoemaker, Gregorio Melchiorri, and Jasen Langley -- all students under the tutelage of Professor Bo Suk Hur at Iowa State University -- took first place at the 2019 Unit Design Competition during National Concrete Masonry Association’s (NCMA) Midyear Meeting last month. How they did it, through a versatile, revolutionary CMU design that could help eliminate pollution all over the globe, turned heads in Seattle. To read the full story, click here.


Miss. St. students score in national masonry contest


A design from three Mississippi State University architecture students placed second in the National Unit Design Competition at the recent National Concrete Masonry Association meeting. The students made eight units of concrete masonry using a digital fabrication process that took into account several factors including usefulness and configuration. Read more.



Register Now for The Masonry Society Annual Meeting

Registration is now open for the TMS Annual Meeting to be held in Scottsdale, AZ November 6 - 9, 2019. Join us for Educational Sessions on a variety of topics including LEED v4.1, as well as the meeting of the new Building Performance Committee. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit the TMS website.

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