Northwest Masonry Buildings Receive USRC Silver Rating

Northwest Concrete Masonry Association (NWCMA) is pleased to announce that the Central Spokane YMCA/YWCA and Parkrose Middle School (Portland, OR) recently achieved the U.S. Resiliency Council (USRC) Silver Rating.

Parkrose Middle School (Portland, OR)

The USRC Building Rating System describes the expected impacts of an earthquake or other natural disaster on buildings. The Silver Rating indicates achievement of key performance targets including limited building damage and a shortened operational recovery time after a major seismic event. Most importantly, loss of life caused directly by building damage is not anticipated.

Tom Young, Executive Director of NWCMA, explains, “A resilient building is an asset to a community. In addition to being a good long-term investment it can often serve as a recovery operations center or provide shelter to a community impacted by a natural disaster.”

Central Spokane YMCA/YWCA (Spokane, WA)

The Parkrose Middle School is a two-story 140,000 sq. ft. structure designed by Dull Olson Weekes – IBI Group Architects, Inc. and KPFF Consulting Engineers. It is an excellent example of an all-masonry cavity wall system incorporating interior exposed concrete masonry structural walls with a brick veneer exterior. The school has also received several other design awards as well as LEED Gold status and is a huge source of pride within the community.

Parkrose Middle School (Portland, OR)

The Central Spokane YMCA/YWCA is a two-story load-bearing masonry building designed by ALSC Architects and Coffman Engineers.  It utilizes both 8” and 12” concrete masonry shear walls. This was the first time the YMCA and YWCA combined resources into one facility which was designed to meet a silver LEED certification.

Central Spokane YMCA/YWCA (Spokane, WA)

Achieving the USRC Silver Rating recognizes the inherent resiliency of these reinforced masonry buildings which were the first two rated under the USRC Getting-to-Silver initiative. When a natural disaster such as an earthquake strikes, it is critical to have safe buildings that sustain minimal damage and quickly achieve functionality. Resilient buildings perform well and contribute to resilient communities.

Established in the 1950s, the Northwest Concrete Masonry Association (NWCMA) works to support its original goal of industry advancement by striving for more innovative and productive ways to design, deliver, and install concrete masonry wall systems.

NWCMA also works on behalf of the concrete masonry industry and designers in the Pacific Northwest to educate architects and engineers on the benefits of using concrete masonry in the design of their buildings.

Affiliation with NWCMA offers both professional growth and business opportunities. It provides its members and affiliates with comprehensive, dynamic services, which include expert technical assistance, education, marketing, and research and development.

For more information, call 425.655.0719 or visit

Our World is Changing And We Need to Change Also

We recently received a sobering reminder that our world has changed forever, and that fact has far-reaching implications for our industries that build our cities, towns, and the systems that sustain our way of life.

The National Climate Assessment report sums it up clearly. “The nation’s economy, security, and culture all depend on the resilience of urban infrastructure systems.”

In the Pacific Northwest catastrophic disasters from floods, wildfires, and periods of bitter cold will be the new realities driving the need for adaptation, notes the climate report.

A Pacific Northwest Building Resilience Coalition article co-authored by Bill Larson, CalPortland’s Vice-President for Marketing, notes this means we need to change how we build, what we build with, where we build, and we must ensure that our buildings and communities are more resilient, more efficient, and more livable.

These are profound challenges for industries already grappling with severe economic and social pressures.

The article points out that changing policies and planning measures such as building codes, zoning regulations, land-use plans, water supply management, green infrastructure initiatives, health care planning, and disaster mitigation efforts, are all actions that can support adaptation.

Integrating disaster preparedness and resiliency planning into on-going public policy processes is a low cost, no regrets approach that allows us to use existing funding sources for climate adaptation.

But to be successful, these adaptation efforts require that private sector players and governments must come together in common cause, notes Larson.

“Only by working together can we reduce our exposure to climate-related stresses and strengthen ability to adapt to changing conditions. We can do it. We must do it.  There is too much at stake for inaction on our part.”

Read the full article here on the PNBRC website.