The American Concrete Institute is advancing its efforts to increase the use of concrete with the launch of its third “center of excellence.” PRO: An ACI Center of Excellence for Advancing Concrete Industry Productivity seeks to draw designers, material suppliers, contractors and other stakeholders together to collaborate on ways to improve design and construction methods, with an eye on speeding concrete projects. 

Phil Diekemper, executive director of PRO, said in a statement that using concrete design to improve construction productivity “is the key to unlocking project value."

“The concrete contractor’s input on design details, specifications and material criteria is long overdue,” Diekemper says. 

PRO is initially identifying obstacles to construction productivity and finding ways around them, compiling constructible design resources and validating new technology, according to ACI.

Located at ACI’s Farmington Hills, Mich., headquarters, the initiative is supported by ACI’s technical experts. But PRO is seeking support from industry leaders interested in advancing concrete design and construction, including contractors “facing complex obstacles.”

Centers of Excellence

ACI launched its first two centers last year. NEx: A Center of Excellence for Nonmetallic Building Materials is focused on promoting development of nonmetallic materials for the construction industry.

Aramco Americas joined ACI in launching the innovation hub. As Khalid Y. Al-Qahtani, Aramco chief engineer said in an ENR Viewpoint, last year, the energy company has found success using nonmetallic materials, such as glass-fiber-reinforced polymer in rebar for a flood-mitigation channel project in Saudi Arabia.

Segments of its pipeline made with nonmetallic materials have proven to be less carbon intensive than steel and resistant to corrosion, Al-Qahtani said. Other companies, including subsidiaries of ExxonMobil Corp. and rebar makers Neuvokas Corp. and MST Rebar Inc., have also joined the NEx effort. 

NEU: An ACI Center of Excellence for Carbon Neutral Concrete is focused on driving research and adoption of carbon-neutral materials and technologies. Last month, ACI announced Dean A. Frank as NEU’s executive director. A licensed professional engineer, he had worked for ACI developing the program, and previously worked at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc., the National Precast Concrete Association and Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute.