Architecture

Concrete Cancer Coverup, Ctd

Characteristic crack pattern associated with the alkali–silica reaction affecting a concrete step barrier on an US motorway

Characteristic crack pattern associated with the alkali–silica reaction affecting a concrete step barrier on an US motorway

By Stephen Cook

THE FIRST casualty of war is truth – even in the cement industry of all places.

In response to growing concerns over a potential multimillion dollar concrete cancer cover-up, the lobby group charged with representing the interests of everyone in the cement industry is continuing to side with the company at the centre of the controversy.

The move has baffled industry insiders who say the Cement and Concrete Association (CCANZ) should be taking affirmative action to alert the public to the issue rather than trying to pour cold water on a problem that could have disastrous longterm consequences for dozens of building projects across the country.

The public relations offensive is being driven by CCANZ head Rob Gaimster, who’s brought in the spin doctors to devise a plan of action aimed not at addressing the problem but at shutting down the controversy.

This week Gaimster has chosen to follow the path of least resistance by acting as an apologist for cement company Drymix, who have been strangely silent since the controversy broke.

This has angered industry insiders, who claim Gaimster and CCANZ are now completely and utterly compromised.

“I can’t understand why CCANZ have taken this position when there is clear evidence that a problem exists,” said one well-placed source.

Earlier this week Gaimster tried to play down the whole controversy, saying he was satisfied Drymix had taken sufficient steps to deal with the issue.

Despite test results to the contrary, he said to his knowledge there was no problem with any Drymix products from earlier in the year . He claimed the results with high alkali levels had come from only small test samples and when re-testing was carried out on larger samples they were within the appropriate range.   Read more »

Concrete Cancer Coverup, Ctd

Examples of Alkali-Silica Reactivity

Examples of Alkali-Silica Reactivity

By Stephen Cook

 

THE COMPANY at the centre of a concrete cancer cover-up hired private investigators to find out who was behind an anonymous flier calling for industry-wide action over the problem.

The move is the latest in a public relations offensive aimed at hushing up a potential multimillion dollar scandal which threatens dozens of building projects around the country along with the ongoing credibility of one of New Zealand’s largest cement companies.

The company at the centre of the concrete cancer controversy is Drymix, who control about five-percent of the $400 million-a-year cement market and through Mitre 10 supply the domestic market with the highly-popular ‘Super Easy Mix In the Bag’ range of cement products.

In January, February and March this year, Drymix imported tens of thousands of tonnes of cement which, according to their own test samples, failed to meet recognised industry standards.

The suspect cement – which has a higher than accepted alkali content – has since been used in hundreds of building projects right across the country, including the $40 million Manukau District Court upgrade.

However rather than alert their customers to the issue, Drymix instead hired private investigators to find out who was behind an anonymous flier demanding industry-wide action over the problem.   Read more »

[EXCLUSIVE] Concrete Cancer Cover-up?

An example of concrete cancer in load bearing structures

An example of concrete cancer in load bearing structures

By Steve Cook

DOZENS OF new structures could be under threat from a catastrophic form of ‘concrete cancer’ – with industry insiders warning the problem could end up costing millions of dollars over time.

The company at the centre of the concrete cancer controversy is Drymix, who control about five-percent of the $400 million-a-year cement market.

The company also has exclusive contracts with the likes of Mitre 10.

In January, February and March this year, Drymix imported tens of thousands of tonnes of cement which, according to their own test samples, failed to meet recognised industry standards.

The suspect cement – which has a higher than accepted alkali content – has since been used in potentially hundreds of building projects right across the country, including the $40.6 million Manukau District Court upgrade.

There are growing fears those structures could be vulnerable to deterioration caused by what’s commonly known as concrete cancer.- a reaction between the alkali and aggregate in the concrete.

Concrete cancer is caused by unusually high alkali levels in cement combined with moisture in the concrete and a reactive form of silica in the aggregate.

When this occurs it can end up causing serious expansion and cracking in concrete, resulting in major structural problems further down the track.

Overseas, especially in earthquake-prone areas, there have been cases where structures have been entirely demolished because of concrete cancer.   Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Steel worker Carl Russell sits at 1,222 feet on top of a steel beam casually waving to the cameraman, who risks his life climbing into a crane to be able to make this photo. Empire State Building, 1930.

Steel worker Carl Russell sits at 1,222 feet on top of a steel beam casually waving to the cameraman, who risks his life climbing into a crane to be able to make this photo. Empire State Building, 1930.

Empire State Building

Read more »

$100,000 for a freakin’ curtain in a library, look no further for evidence of waste in Len Brown’s council

Mayor Len Brown and the Auckland Council have got us ratepayers into a dark, deep financial hole of debt.

How on earth can Auckland Council justify spending $100,000 of ratepayer money on a silk curtain for the new Devonport Library?

What? Yep, don’t believe me, read for yourself.

image003 Read more »

If tax breaks are good for one sector why not others?

Labour decided that wood was a winner…and have proposed tax breaks to assist the industry.

The proposal excited no one except tribal Labour sycophants.

It has also managed to upset other sectors who are asking why not them? And they have a good point.

The ‘pro-wood’ policy announced by Labour at yesterday’s Forestwood conference is unfair because it disadvantages other building materials, says the body representing New Zealand’s diverse metals industries, Metals NZ.

Gary Hook, Metals NZ Chief Executive, says Labour’s policy is picking winners, rather than letting the market decide on the best solution.

“The idea that new government-funded buildings up to four-storeys high must consider wood as a building option undermines the technical expertise of structural engineers, architects and quantity surveyors.

“These professional advisers are the best people to evaluate the most suitable building materials based on the desired product performance and commercial outcomes for a particular project – not the government.”

The policy also feels like a step backwards to the days of more red tape, says Mr Hook.

“Forcing a wood option to be considered for all government-funded projects at the design stage is inefficient because it will simply add paperwork, delays and ultimately more cost to building projects.”  Read more »

All those years of teaching wets, of course it’s damp!

Surely it must come as now surprise that 3 houses at Auckland University that were the home of political studies were damp. They’ve spent decades teaching a bunch of wets, I’m surprised there isn’t an ocean lurking inside the buildings.

Anne Gibson reports:

Fehl said the political studies department had occupied the houses for some years but problems arose.

“There were various issues with the buildings for a long time but the work was triggered by the need to do seismic strengthening. At the same time, we had issues around dampness and the basements below street level needed remediation,” he said.  Read more »

Cladding firms in the gun at last

Policy Parrot says:

Finally the wheels start trundling around in the lead up to proceedings against the big cladding manufacturers.

This case is a test case and will utterly redefine the leaking building saga. Until now it has been a case of slippery avoidance by product manufacturers who have fingered all in sundry for applying the materials incorrectly or inspecting shoddy work.

This Parrot however has always thought it odd that products appeared to be dodging the bullet. Surely if universally houses and buildings that leaked were clad in similar products – and in a large portion the same products – an issue exists with the cladding systems.

Surely not every single builder, developer and Council can have shortcut procurement methodology, conducted inappropriate inspections and or cocked it up?

It’s simply too fanciful to have everyone – the good and bad – at fault. Particularly when using the same product.

Because the common denominator is actually the product.   Read more »

Rise of the Green-empire

Photo/ NZGBC Facebook

Photo/ NZGBC Facebook

Policy Parrot says:

Green buildings are a farce.

Firstly green buildings are championed by an industry that is self promoting and eager to grow. These businesses have ingenuously attached their ideas and products to the notion ‘green’ and with a powerful lobby convinced everyone that building sustainable buildings are required to save the planet.

Utter cods-wallop and trite.

In New Zealand we have the Green Building Council. It offers services including certification for office buildings in the form of a star rating from 3-6 stars depending on how many points a building earns after evaluation. The cost for this ‘certificate’ is $100-150,000.

The Green Building Council is under threat from other similar rating organisations that have arrived or about to arrive from overseas and who will offer rival rating systems for building owners. Competition. Which system is better and who says any of them mean anything? Aren’t these organisations simply spruiker’s capitalising on the modern day popular trend?

Lets be clear – this is a rating industry masquerading under the banner ‘green’. It’s making loads of money selling certificates to building owners so that they in turn can sell or lease buildings to tenants who think (but don’t know) that the buildings are somehow better for the environment and lower costs.

But where is the proof?     Read more »

Green Failures, Ctd

The unfolding record of disastrous Green policies almost defies belief.

Whenever the Green movement gets its hands on the levers of power, it drives nations deeper into trouble.

Ethanol – Fail.   Electric cars – Fail..  Carbon Trading – Fail.  Windmills – Fail.

And now home insulation – Fail.

Several German studies show that insulated homes consume more rather than less energy. These findings are especially significant because the German Federal Government plans to further tighten energy saving regulations.

Insulation does not always reduce heating energy demand in residential buildings. Its application can in fact increase the consumption of oil and gas. This is the result of a number of studies. The results raise the question whether the Federal Government’s green energy transition may fail in its objectives.

Particularly explosive is a recently rediscovered study by the IBP Institute for Building Physics  of the Fraunhofer Institute. Based on an detailed comparative analysis, scientists at the research institute in Stuttgart established in 1985 that, given average winter temperatures of minus four degrees Celsius, the use of insulating does not reduce heating energy consumption; compared to house with solid walls it rather pushes up energy consumption. 

“The expensive facade insulation is useless and even leads to rising heating costs,” says architect Konrad Fischer. The insulation critic from Hochstadt am Main has found the Fraunhofer paper again which was lost for decades.

According to the study, the fact that insulating materials do not meet the expectations placed upon them it is due to a simple physical law: massive walls can retain solar  warmth and radiate the heat into the interior spaces until late in the evening, even in winter. With insulated houses, however, this is not possible because of the thick plastic insulation covering the outer walls. As a result, “the interior is at no time supplied with heat”, the researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute already recognised 27 years ago.