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 425.697.5298 or visit www.nwcma.org.

Construction Cost Comparison Study – Portland, OR

This study evaluates initial construction costs of a four-story building in the Portland area. It compares construction cost estimates of six different structural systems all with brick veneer as the exterior cladding. Click here to view the full study.

Initial Cost of Construction Study Cover ImageStudy Results and Discussion

Based on the construction cost estimates prepared for this study, the cost associated with using a noncombustible compartmentalized construction method including concrete-based construction materials was very favorable with both conventional wood frame and light gage steel frame construction costs. The load-bearing masonry system was only 3 percent more than the cost of conventional wood frame and 3 percent less than steel frame construction.

The minimal increase in construction cost can help pay for itself over the life of the structure. Materials such as concrete masonry have many other advantages beyond their inherent fire resistance including durability, resistance to mold growth, resistance to damage from vandalism, structural integrity, and minimal damage caused by water and water pressure in the event of building fire. In many cases, with concrete-based construction that will never burn, the damage outside of the fire compartment is minimal. This provides for reduced cleanup costs and quicker reoccupation of the structure.

This study determined that truly resilient buildings can be constructed affordably. We can keep the residents in our communities safe by using the principles of balanced design. We recommend that a similar study be undertaken to evaluate the use of similar construction systems and their associated construction cost impact on other typical building types such as schools, retail establishments, and commercial buildings.

Click here to view the full study.