Total Life Cycle (TLC) concrete promotion broadens the maintenance emphasis in life-cycle costing to a more holistic approach and emphasizes concrete's relatively low depletion of energy and natural resources throughout the construction and service life of all structures, including buildings. It also considers the material's use of recycled materials, its in-service environmental benefits, and its long life cycle that reduces the need for maintenance and new construction.
Whether the concrete producer likes it or not, the promotional emphasis must shift toward TLC because market forces are making sustainable structures a priority among architects and building and pavement owners.
In Chicago the Portland Cement Association (PCA) has just completed a seven-year collection of Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data for concrete. PCA recently published LCIs for ready-mix, concrete block, and precast concrete, and PCA's database of LCI information eventually should allow for comparisons of structural building components, roads, and homes built with concrete and alternative materials as part of a concrete Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
The goal of the LCA will be to provide a complete and accurate information base that can be used to compare portland cement concrete with competing construction materials.
In lieu of LCI data from competing industries, several articles comparing data on the environmental impact of various construction materials do exist.
In the area of commercial buildings, several states are providing incentives for construction of sustainable government buildings. This opens the door to promotion of the environmental benefits of concrete.
The article includes a list of articles, associations, and Web sites with information about the TLC benefits of concrete. It also includes information about the REI flagship store in Seattle, which may represent the future of sustainable commercial construction.