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“Degrees of Change: Building Materials” from Science Friday Podcast

We love the Science Friday podcast – always interesting and provocative.

This edition, “Degrees of Change: Building Materials,” explores mass timber and innovations in the production of steel and concrete to decrease their carbon emissions. It is an informative conversation and Jeremy Gregory, Director of the Concrete Sustainability Hub at MIT, gives up-to-the-minute information on the many #concreteinnovations that exist and that are in the pipeline.

The feature on building materials starts ½ way into the program. The steel and concrete response begins at 31:30 and Gregory chimes in at 36 minutes. At 44 minutes there is a call from Steve, a home designer based in Florida. He called into the Science Friday podcast to discuss how he uses #concreteblock to protect the homes he builds from termites.

Here is what he had to say:

“One of the problems here in Florida is termites. It is the number one cause for insurance claims … as well as fires and tornados. So, insurance is a big deal. People who have their homes designed and built using concrete block save a substantial amount of money as opposed to wood. That’s not to say we don’t use wood within the project: we have wood within the home… trusses, cabinets, … they are all important and necessary within the architecture of the housing industry. But, as far as the superstructure of the house, we try to use concrete block wherever possible. That saves a lot of money in insurance…”

In an article in Builder Magazine entitled HOW HOME BUILDERS CAN PROTECT THEIR PROPERTIES FROM TERMITES, author Robyn Griggs Lawrence notes:

“Termites want nothing more than food, water, and warmth, which is why they gravitate to wooden structures, where they can hide and feed on the walls during the fall and winter months. Those unlucky termites that can’t find shelter above ground burrow below the soil, which is a great insulator—to a point. When the ground freezes, these termites die. That’s fairly effective population control, especially up north, but as winters get warmer and shorter and summers get wetter, scientists are concerned that more colonies will be able to stay active for longer periods throughout the year, inevitably producing more young.”

She goes on to state that just in Florida, termites cause an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion per year in damages.

In STRATEGIES FOR TERMITE RESISTANCE, published by the National Concrete Masonry Association, they note that, “Concrete masonry is one of the best products available for termite resistance since it does not provide a source of nutrition.” They go on to note that it is important to consider the potential for termite infestation during the construction phase to protect against future infestations.

Here are their suggestions:

Strategies for termite control include:

~building out of all concrete masonry;
~minimizing cracks in walls and slabs;
~sealing around all wall and floor penetrations;
~adequate drainage around the foundation and adjacent soil;
~providing access to inspect for termite tunnels;
~installing barriers to prevent termite entry;
~maintaining a minimum clearance between wood members and soil;
~treating soil with chemicals to repel termites; and
~utilizing termite resistant construction materials.
~The level of termite control employed on a particular job should be consistent with the expected severity of the termite hazard. This level of severity for a particular location can be determined from local experience or from the state entomological authorities.

Termites: another reason it is wise to #BuildWithStrength and build with concrete and concrete products. It is resistant to termites along with plenty of natural and not-so-natural disasters.