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LEADER

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CONCRETE QUARTERLY/ SUMMER 06

Precast concrete is well suited to meet the demands of today's construction industry, not only for faster, more productive construction of assured quality, but also for the demands that buildings, in the short- and long-term, are more environmentally sustainable and cost effective to use.

The benefits of precast concrete include those which are inherent in all concrete construction: thermal efficiency, fire resistance, sound insulation, enhanced vibration performance and long-term durability. In addition, precasting of concrete has its own specific advantages. Produced in a factory, the product is weather-independent, offers 24-hour working capabilities and attractive economies of scale and scope.

Speed, quality and efficiency are all specific attributes.

Initiatives such as 'Rethinking Construction' have focused interest on the advantages of treating construction as an on-site assembly of factory-manufactured components. This is where precast concrete comes into its own. Columns, beams, oors and stairs can all be manufactured in a controlled factory environment. Installation on site is fast and provides an early weatherproof envelope that allows faster access for follow-on trades. There is also the possibility for whole rooms to be cast as a module or pod.

In addition to offering practical structural solutions, precast concrete offers an unrivalled range of finishes and with a little thought it also offers bespoke-looking buildings using standardised components. And the material has good environmental credentials. Precast production uses less energy than either structural steel frame components or curtainwalling systems while offering inherent thermal efficiencies.

With such a range of benefits it is little wonder that the potential of precast concrete is increasingly being realised.

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