The National Precast Concrete Association’s (NPCA) annual Creative Use of Precast Awards are known for highlighting some of the industry’s most interesting work. This year was no different; the association’s 2013 awards included innovative projects such as an Islamic temple, playground stagecoach, and yes - even a precast concrete bat cave.
Oldcastle Precast in Lebanon, Tenn., won the First Place Underground CUP Award for its Bellamy Bat Cave. The artificial cave is 78 feet long and 16 feet wide – about the size of a mobile home – and is assembled from prefabricated concrete sections. Its 11-foot ceiling is textured so bats can cling to it.
The cave is part of a $300,000 project by The Nature Conservancy, to save bats that are dying by the millions from a fungus spreading across North America. Unlike natural caves, the precast structure can be cleaned annually to remove the fungus. “We talked with other people, waiting for one of them to call us crazy and no one did,” said Gina Hancock, director of the conservancy’s Tennessee chapter.
The precast cave was placed near a natural cave that is an existing hibernation site for gray bats. Most of the artificial cave is covered with 4 feet of soil, leaving an air intake that serves as an entrance for the bats. The Nature Conservancy will attempt to coax them to the new site with ultra-sonic bat calls on loudspeakers.
Meanwhile, in Ohio… Lafarge North America’s Paulding plant celebrated Earth Day by installing a small bat shelter in one of its plant’s wildlife areas. The concrete producer maintains multiple wildlife habitats at the Paulding site, such as grass plains, a lake, and wildflowers.
“As a site certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council, we make it a priority to be aware of the needs of our surrounding wildlife,” says Tim Weible, senior environmental manager at the plant. “By installing a shelter on-site, we hope to attract more bats to the area and help restore the bat population by providing a safe place to roost.”
Concrete’s superheroes are on a mission to save the planet, one bat at a time!