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PCI Northeast

Innovations E-Newsletter


Using Life Cycle Assessment in Designing High-Performance Buildings


Presenter: Emily Lorenz, P.E., LEED AP BD+C
August 21

Description: Sustainability is a concept that we all strive for in our building designs. As we move toward more-sustainable designs, high-performance buildings require consideration of an increasing number of interdependent design choices. And not only do we need to design to reduce environmental impact, but we need to design buildings to adapt to climate change. High performance structures go beyond being built sustainably to include other aspects such as resiliency and focus on long-term performance.

This presentation will describe high-performance buildings, as well as key elements to their performance. It will explain topics related to sustainability, including life-cycle assessment, environmental product declarations, and environmental impacts. The presenter will discuss the importance of considering a full set of environmental impacts during design. Finally, examples of design choices based on various life-cycles will be compared. Case studies will be used to highlight information presented.

Learning Objectives:

  • Define high-performance buildings and building envelopes.
  • Explain what LCAs, EDPs, and PCRs are and their relevance in high performance building design.
  • Discuss the importance of considering a full set of environmental impacts during design.
  • Describe the pitfalls of making design choices based on a limited life cycle.

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Featured Projects

Newport Water Treatment Center, Newport, RI

Bristol Recreation Center, Bristol, CT

Precast concrete architectural insulated sandwich wall panels were selected to clad the new Water Treatment facility for the City of Newport, Rhode Island. The project upgraded the treatment capabilities for the center and another nearby one. Construction is expected to be completed in December 2014.

The $67-million, two-facility project is being handled by the design/build team of AECOM and C.H. Nickerson & Co. Both facilities will remain operational during the construction.

The precast concrete panels used to clad the structures feature a light sandblasted finish, with a wide horizontal band of embedded thin bricks breaking up the mass. The panels, 11 inches thick, feature two wythes of precast concrete sandwiching 2½ inches of XPS insulation.

The precast concrete components were fabricated by Coreslab Structures (CONN), Inc.

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Tappan Zee Bridge, Tarrytown, NY

Kent Hospital Ambulatory Service Pavilion

The new 3.1-mile-long Tappan Zee Bridge, at $.3.9 billion the largest bridge-construction project in New York state history, features a record-setting $70 million worth of precast concrete deck panels. Fabricating the 6,000 panels on the tight schedule has required the precaster to expand its facility and hire another 100 workers. The first span is scheduled to open in 2016, with all work completed by 2018.

The twin-span, cable-stayed bridge replaces the original structure, completed in 1955. The new design comprises a steel substructure with eight traffic lanes, four breakdown lanes, and a bicycle and pedestrian lane. The bridge will incorporate a state-of-the-art traffic-monitoring system and is designed to handle light-rail or commuter-rail trains in the future. The precast concrete panels will form the driving surface of the bridge.

The $70-million fabrication contract represents a record for precaster Unistress Corp., says Perri Petricca, president. The panels are straightforward in design, he notes, “but with the requirement of a 100-year design life, they are being manufactured to exacting standards.� Achieving that goal includes such measures as fabricating the panels with high-strength, high-performance concrete and using galvanized-steel reinforcement.

The precast concrete deck panels (other than the main span) will be fabricated by Unistress Corporation, Pittsfield, MA.
The precast concrete deck panels for the main span will be fabricated by Fort Miller Co., Schuylerville, NY.

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Regeneron Campus Parking Structure, Tarrytown NY

Regeneron Campus Parking Structure

BioMed Realty Trust’s two new buildings on its Tarrytown, NY, campus will cover 297,000 square feet. To handle parking needs for the two facilities, a laboratory and office space, designers created a four-story total precast concrete parking structure that will be waiting for the buildings’ tenants when the facilities are ready for occupancy in 2015.

The 246,000-square-foot structure offers space for 823 cars and will include several sustainable-design features, including a solar array on the roof and charging stations on the first floor. A steel bridge will be constructed to connect the upper parking levels to the buildings once they are completed.

The parking structure is on track to be completed in October 2014, well ahead of the buildings’ planned completion in June 2015.

The precast concrete components were fabricated by Blakeslee Prestress, Inc.

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Upcoming Events

Celebrating 60 Years of Success at the 2014 PCI Convention and National Bridge Conference

Celebrating 60 Years of Success at the 2014 PCI Convention and National Bridge Conference

Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center -
National Harbor, MD
September 6-9

The 60th Anniversary Convention promises to be one of the best in PCI history. The educational offerings will provide information and knowledge that you can put directly into practice. The extensive technical program, which will include more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, will offer you continuing education credit. The program also has tracks on marketing and sales, productivity, sustainability, executive leadership, R&D, building materials, and transportation. There truly is something of value for everyone in your organization.

Join us for Architects' Day: High Performance Precast and Innovation (ARCH2)

This 1/2 day seminar for 4HSW Learning Units of free continuing education on the latest aesthetic innovations and exceptional applications of high performance precast concrete.

Visit for more information and to register.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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Precast Hollowcore Floors and Walls for Housing

Lunch & Learn-Hollowcore

In this program, participants will understand the basics of hollowcore plank flooring systems. Hollowcore is a common method of building multi-family and student housing, condominiums, and many other building applications. Fabrication and installation procedures will be discussed, along with proper detailing requirements. Building envelope considerations for energy efficiency, including fire resistance and acoustical benefits, will be reviewed. Several case studies will be presented. After viewing this program, participants will be able to identify the hollowcore plank systems and explain the benefits of using hollowcore plank systems with owners and other designers.

Length: 1.0 Hour | Credits: AIA HSW 1.0 LU | PDH: 1.0

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PCI Announces New Blast Design Manual

PCI’s Blast-Resistant Design Manual, First Edition (MNL 141-12) is now available as an ePub at This manual describes the basic process of blast-resistant structural design for precast/prestressed concrete components. It includes calculating blast loads on the component, determining the dynamic response of the component, checking the response against specified performance criteria, designing the component connections, and checking the component for adequate shear capacity. The emphasis in this manual is on blast loads from exterior explosions and the dynamic analysis of blast-loaded structural components idealized as equivalent single degree of freedom systems. These assumptions simplify the blast-resistant design procedure discussed in this manual, but they apply to many cases of practical interest for anti-terrorism and force protection design. For more details and purchasing information, visit

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Curved Precast Concrete Bridges State-of-the-Art Report

This publication details the application of curved precast concrete bridge design, fabrication, construction techniques, and considerations through the study of twelve related projects and constitutes a state of the art report on this topic. The document was written and intended to provide bridge owners, designers, fabricators and engineers an up-to-date reference in developing precast concrete bridge solutions for curved geometric situations. The topics include: Straight Girders chorded from Pier to Pier, Straight Girders Segments with Splices within the Spans, and Curved Precast Girders.  Each case study reviews project specific information, the structural system selected, construction techniques used and the lessons learned. For more details and purchasing information, visit

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Updated Fire Publication Now Available on PCI's e-Publication Site

PCI/ICC's Design for Fire Resistance of Precast Prestressed Concrete, Third Edition (MNL 124-11) is available as an electronic publication at

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Ascent Magazine

Subscribe to PCI's Ascent Magazine (It's FREE!) or if you prefer read it online.

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PCI eLearning

Parking PCI is proud to offer the first education management system dedicated to the precast concrete and precast structures industries, the PCI elearning Center. All courses offered through this system satisfy the continuing education requirements of engineers in all 50 states! As an AIA provider, PCI is able to offer architects approved Learning Units to satisfy their continuing education requirements. Be sure to bookmark us and visit often as we populate this interface with more and more free, easy-to-access, always-available coursework.

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Executive Director: Rita Seraderian | | © 2014 PCI Northeast

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