Environmentally Secure Concrete Houses

Addressing the Need for Permanent Shelter in Hawaii

Examining the Resistance to Change

© 1993 John August

Now you might ask, if Lightweight Composite concrete is this good, why aren't we using it now? Let's examine some of the reasons why:

1. The architectural and engineering emphasis in structural concrete has been in the high density/high strength area, mainly to meet increased demand for sky rise office buildings, freeways, and airports. Little development and R&D has been invested in low weight/high strength concrete because of the lack of demand.

2. The ready mix industry has no incentive to offer LWC as an alternative. ICBO (International Conference of Building Officials) and ASTM (American Society forTesting and Materials) approvals for any new material can be both time consuming and expensive. And most ready mix plants have been making plenty of money doing things the same way for the last three decades, so again there is no incentive to change.

3. Current technology is tainted by past failures. The comment "we tried that before and it didn't work," is pervasive in the industry. But many times there are new products, that although similar to one's in the past, have worked out the bugs. The foam I use is one such example. Foams have been accused of ruining trucks, deflating, and reacting with other admixtures. Yet none of these problems occur with the foam I use.

4. US industry in general fails to invest enough capital for research in new technology and materials. We are losing our position in the world as innovators because of the emphasis on short term economic gain. CEOs are paid handsomely, but the trickle down to R&D departments is often appalling. Lightweight foamed concrete is in widespread use in Japan, Russia, Europe, Australia, and Africa.

5. Bureaucratic red tape. Local agencies are often reluctant to allow variances in the UBC (Uniform Building Code) for building experimental structures. Labor unions have traditionally resisted efficient construction. Sometimes their influence results in inordinate restrictions imposed by local building codes.

6. Vested interests. Stiff opposition can be expected from the steel, timber, and gypsum industries and their associated tradesmen.

7. An ignorant and uneducated public will not demand something they lack knowledge of. This restraint of our imaginations and the reluctance of humanity to try anything new are effective brakes to progress.


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