Launch Slideshow

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TCP's 2010 Influencers: Heavenly Research

TCP's 2010 Influencers: Heavenly Research

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    As director of quality assurance, Godwin Amekuedi oversees the quality management system for all of Argos USA's concrete and cement businesses.

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    Canan D'Avela is about to give a presentation on energy conservation and masonry at the annual NCMA conference.

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    David Goodyear says concrete was the ideal material for the new bridge.

Seeing Stars

Canan D'Avela has advanced energy conservation in concrete masonry.

It was about 1960. The U.S. and the Soviet Union were in the deep freeze of the Cold War.

“That's when the space program was first introduced. There were the Russians and Sputnik,” recalls Canan D'Avela. “The race was on and kids could see it in television programs. We could feel the buzz in the adults and we took it very seriously.”

During this time, D'Avela and two fourth grade classmates did a science experiment to collect sunlight. They made a parabolic mirror inside an umbrella. Their teacher reminded them they lived in a northern climate, and didn't think much of their project. “Our intent was to find an alternate source of energy. We were hurt.”

Since then, D'Avela's life work has involved mineral-based products and processes, along with energy. Today as principal of Western American Minerals and Chemical Consultants in Phoenix, he works closely with the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA), the Masonry Guild, International Code Council, and Construction Specifications Institute and advises concrete block producers on the importance of codes in their work.

If block producers don't know what the code requirements are, they don't know what products to sell, he explains.

No one knows what became of that fourth-grade teacher. But for his work in advancing energy conservation, and for being an advocate for the concrete masonry industry, TCP has named Canan D'Avela a 2010 Influencer.

Nuance of codes

D'Avela, 58, credits Jason Thompson, NCMA's director of engineering, with teaching him the nuances of the code. “I will always be grateful for that,” he says. “It was key to me, to clearly understand the delicacy of how things work, especially after attending some of the code hearings.

“If you can't decipher the code and the requirements of your project's location, you have no technical or legal basis for your project,” he says. “I have seen engineering and architectural firms proceed with a design and ignore details of the specific code, only to find they threw away the profit margin, and now they have a liability.”

He talks to architects and contractors about fine-tuning their projects to the applicable code. “Then we can discuss refining cost effectiveness from the designer's perspective,” he says. “Therefore, the designer trusts and respects you more. Producers are in transition and they understand the importance and effect this has on being able to sell in today's market.”

In late October, D'Avela attended the National Code Hearings in Charlotte, N.C. Mandates for sweeping changes in energy requirements were discussed. “It's leveled the playing field,” he says. “We have opportunities like never before. Those of us representing cementitious groups see stars in our eyes.”