Some of the concrete industry’s largest associations, including the NRMCA, ACI, and the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI), are putting their heads together in defense against a common enemy: wood.

The wood industry is aggressively working to gain market share over other building materials and influence building codes, especially in commercial mid-rise construction. [See ‘Wood or Concrete’] With products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), advocates of wood frame construction claim to match the strength and durability of concrete, masonry, and steel, with added benefits of cost savings and sustainability.

Ready-mix and precast concrete producers serving the commercial market are seeing the impact of more timber frames being used in taller structures. “It has already affected us greatly,” says Dominic Giovannucci of Essroc Ready Mix in Vienna, W.Va. “Projects which used to be 4,000-5,000 cubic yards [of concrete] are now being done with only 2,000, and wood from the first floor up.”

Geneva Rock Products is seeing the same trend in Utah, where “many new apartment complexes are now lumber up to six floors that were concrete before,” says Andrea Staheli, marketing specialist. “This is having a negative effect on concrete volume in new multifamily construction in all of our surrounding markets,” says Roger Kerr, vice president of sales and treasurer of Kerr’s Hickory Ready Mixed Concrete Co. in Hickory, N.C.

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