This new year has just begun and already we’re off to a great start. Have you heard about the new law in California for ready-mix concrete drivers? Prevailing wage laws require that workers on publicly funded projects be paid at the rate most tradesmen are paid in their area, eliminating an incentive for bidders to underpay. New in 2016, AB219 now adds to the mix drivers who deliver ready-mix concrete.

Also this week, we learned about a plan to use precast concrete to build taller wind farms. Researchers from Iowa State University's Structural Engineering Research Laboratory say using precast concrete modules for the construction of wind turbine towers could have a profound impact on the installation and usage of renewable energy facilities. They call them “Hexcrete” towers, and they have the potential of rising to 460 feet tall, enabling the wind turbines to harvest greater amounts of energy from the more rapid air currents that prevail at higher altitudes.

That’s not all for precast. District 1 in San Antonio is looking for a new way to fix its crumbling sidewalks. Using precast concrete, which will be made offsite, will ensure that the sidewalks withstand the high temperatures of Texas and changes in soil.

Making its debut in Germany, a concrete made with recycled aggregates is being used as a structural concrete for building construction. Cemex announced, “we are very pleased to have been part of this pilot project.”

In other innovations, engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison introduced a new form of fiber-reinforced concrete that promises to enhance the seismic resistance of high-rises relatively easily and inexpensively. And last, but certainly not least, researchers from Empa's Concrete/Construction Chemistry and Mechanical Systems Engineering Laboratories have found a way to make self-compacting high-performance concrete (SCHPC) fire resistant.

What new innovations are you working on? What interesting projects are taking shape in your area? I’d love to hear from you. But for now, take a look at this simulated video of a 400-foot-tall Hexcrete Tower Assembly.