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Credit: Photo: Bryan Haraway, Getty Images

Decorative colored and polished concrete, as mentioned at the Concrete Polishing Luncheon and Forum, can help diversify the contractor's portfolio and help meet green-building objectives.

Each year, the World of Concrete is the industry's launching pad for new equipment, innovative ideas, and the latest technologies. Exhibitors compete for attention with their latest and greatest. The Most Innovative Products contest showcases their newest offerings. And as always, showgoers have a wide range of educational events they can attend.

In a way, WOC is an opportunity for the industry to assess itself, to look back at where it's been and to look forward to where it's going.

The event in January in Las Vegas was no different, as it once again revealed the top trends in concrete production and construction. Several of these trends became apparent to the almost 85,000 attendees as the week progressed.

Concrete leads to green

Sustainability has clearly moved front and center. It's not just a fad, but a main focus of large-scale construction projects around the world, finding its way into industry associations' initiatives and as a featured topic at conferences.

The proof is in the numbers. This year, $21.2 billion will be spent on green-building principles in the nonresidential market, a 58% increase over 2006, according to the 2008 FMI U.S. Construction Overview.

Pushed by government agencies, lawmakers presented more than 100 bills focusing on greenbuilding in 2007. The practicality of reusing materials and the appeal of reducing costs have each spurred the interest in sustainability.

At Greeensite, a new pavilion in the South Hall, not only were products showcased to help the contractor and producer build greener, but speakers also discussed sustainable construction and what it entails. Thermal mass, CO2 emissions, and using fewer materials were three main themes. (See story on page 35.)

Building green was also a hot topic at the Women in Concrete and at the Concrete Polishing luncheons and forums. Even though these two events attracted very different audiences, the featured guests delivered similar messages: Building with sustainability in mind is here to stay, and concrete can help you do that.

Cleaner and greener

Pervious concrete piqued attendees' interest at Greensite and Shana Young of Smith's Ready Mix, Hot Springs, Ark., presented a case study on its use in Arkansas, expanding on its various environmental advantages. “Pervious concrete helps to keep the world a little cleaner, a little greener, for those coming after us,” Young said.

“How Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) can help the Producer, Contractor, and Others” was a welcome topic, especially with gloomy economic predictions looming over the industry. “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” isn't just a catch phrase to help save the environment but a means to help your bottom line.