OCTABLOG

Four Years After Fukushima, Japan Looks For Answers

Posted by Lee Drever on Mar 13, 2015 11:46:00 AM

It has been four years since Japan was hit with the most powerful earthquake in its recorded history.
Tsunami Devastation
 Octaform customers, Hayashi Trout shared this shot of the devastation in Ongawa, Japan


In March of 2011, just 45 miles east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tohoku, a 9.0 magnitude undersea megathrust earthquake triggered a wave of destruction unlike anything in Japan's recorded memory. The quake and subsequent tsunami washed over coastal ports and towns, claiming over 18,000 lives, destroying over one million buildings and triggering a nuclear meltdown.

Four years later, Japan continues to deal with the aftermath of the disaster. The almost 83,000 residents living closest to the Fukushima nuclear plant were evacuated and radiation levels have kept them from returning home. Cleanup continues and researchers and analysts have now ruled local dairy, produce and seafood to be safe. 

Trout Grow-Out Tanks Are Stocked
  Hayashi Trout stocks the Octaform tanks at their park near Fukushima.

However, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, fears persist. As Wired reports, locals are slow to return to locally grown food even in the face of positive data.

Understandably, these fears are also affecting Japan's energy infrastructure. The Fukushima plant and all 48 of the nation's nuclear facilities have remained closed since the events of 2011, leaving utilities scrambling for energy. Forced to rely heavily on fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas, leaders have worked to find cleaner sources like solar. 

Driven by political and popular will, solar use in Japan has grown dramatically in the last two years. Clean and renewable, it represents an about-face from atomic energy but as the New York Times reports, this may be too good to be true. Utilities are now rejecting solar, complaining that it can't reliably support the demands of the country.

Many argue that the solution, to reducing Japan's now high greenhouse gas emissions, is actually a return to atomic power. The long term effects of the world's worst nuclear meltdown since Chernobyl remain to be seen but the reality is that there have been no fatalities directly linked to the Fukushima accident.

Japan's struggle is a microcosm of our global struggle. 'Answers' are few and far between and, as they are learning, 'solutions' are often trade-offs. 

These issues around sustainability, unfortunately, are easily politicized. It seems tough, however, to take issue with the Portland Cement Association's basic sentiment on the topic:

"We believe the most sustainable building is the one still standing.” David Shepherd, PCA

Each year in the United States alone, more than $35 billion in direct property loss is caused by natural disasters.  States and municipalities are seeking to adopt ordinances that require “green” or “sustainable” construction, yet as the PCA points out, they are overlooking disaster-resistance construction. 

There is now a call for making enhanced resilience of a building’s structure to natural and man-made disasters the first consideration of a green building.  Increased longevity and durability, combined with improved disaster resistance, results in the need for less energy and resources. This is not only the case for repair, removal, disposal and replacement of building materials and contents due to disasters, but for routine maintenance and operations as well. 

Concrete Trout Tanks Under Construction
 Formed and protected with Octaform, Hayashi's aquaculture tanks survived the disaster unscathed.

“Integration of durability and functional resilience into sustainability codes, standards and programs is long overdue,” David Shepherd, director of sustainability for the Portland Cement Association (PCA) said. “Some say the most sustainable structure is the one that isn’t built. We believe the most sustainable building is the one still standing.”

Functionally resilient buildings place less demand on resources and allow communities to provide vital services, even after a natural disaster.  For example, resilient construction allows businesses to continue operations, providing municipalities with a consistent tax base. Emergency recovery, the PCA reminds us, costs money. These funds are often reallocated from other community economic, societal and environmental initiative. The ripples can last for generations.

The question of sustainability is complicated and rife with misinformation, trade-offs and unforseen consequences but building better, it seems, will always be the right choice.

 


 

Topics: Aquaculture, Agriculture, Sustainability, Concrete, Concrete Construction, seismic, disaster, energy, Agri-Food, Renewable Energy

The Most Sustainable Building is the One Still Standing

Posted by Lee Drever on Sep 30, 2011 11:50:00 AM

Association demands that sustainable construction stress durability as well as energy efficiency and other green building requirements.

Each year in the United States alone, more than $35 billion in direct property loss is caused by natural disasters.  Yet, while states and municipalities are seeking to adopt ordinances that require “green” or “sustainable” construction, they are overlooking disaster-resistance construction. 

Tsunami Devastation
 Octaform customers, Hayashi Trout shared this shot of the recent devastation in Ongawa, Japan

There is now a call for making enhanced resilience of a building’s structure to natural and man-made disasters the first consideration of a green building.  Increased longevity and durability, combined with improved disaster resistance, results in the need for less energy and resources. This is not only the case for repair, removal, disposal and replacement of building materials and contents due to disasters, but for routine maintenance and operations as well. 

"We believe the most sustainable building is the one still standing.”

“Integration of durability and functional resilience into sustainability codes, standards and programs is long overdue,” David Shepherd, director of sustainability for the Portland Cement Association (PCA) said. “Some say the most sustainable structure is the one that isn’t built. We believe the most sustainable building is the one still standing.”

Functionally resilient buildings place less demand on resources and allow communities to provide vital services, even after a natural disaster.  For example, resilient construction allows businesses to continue operations, providing municipalities with a consistent tax base.  Further community economic, societal and environmental benefits occur when cities are not required to reallocated resources for emergency recovery.

A resilient building is not limited to one that is operational after a natural disaster, but also one that can withstand the hardship of the passing years.  The Brookings Institution projects that by 2030, the U.S. will have demolished and replaced 82 billion square feet of its current building stock, or nearly one-third of  existing buildings, largely because the vast majority of them weren't designed and built to last any longer. Robust, functionally resilient buildings arefrequently reused and even re-purposed when downtowns are renovated.

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To allow local governments to adopt green building codes that address high performance as well as conventional sustainable features, the PCA and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IIBHS). have developed High Performance Building Requirements for Sustainability 2.0.  The criteria are written in mandatory language that amends and appends the International Code CouncilInternational Building Code.  The provisions are generic and do not specify one specific material over another. 

PCA and IIBHS have aligned the provisions with the concepts of both the Whole Building Design Guide and High Performance Building Council.  Enacting and enforcing these provisions provides the basis for designers and owners to obtain certification as a US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction.

Learn more about the High Performance Building Requirements for Sustainability at Booth #1245N at the 2011 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.

 

Topics: Sustainability, Concrete, Concrete Construction, seismic, disaster

Octaform Wants You!

Posted by Lee Drever on Jun 8, 2011 9:15:00 AM

WE ARE NO LONGER ACCEPTING CANDIDATES FOR THIS POSITION - THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST!

Are you a new graduate interested in seismic and/or structural engineering?

This Vancouver, BC based position involves analyzing and coordinating cutting edge research in the field of structural testing and concrete technology.

We are looking for applicants with a sufficient amount of knowledge pertaining to structures combined with creativity and excellent interpersonal skills. This job is not solely about crunching numbers; applicants must have sufficient writing and communication skills in order to effectively coordinate between our current research projects and our head office.

Duties

  • To assist the company in developing knowledge in the field of concrete technology as it relates to the Octaform system
  • To enquire about outreach programs for universities and other educational organizations to provide awareness of and testing of the Octaform system
  • To participate on current product improvement and development projects
  • To learn about innovative stay-in-place concrete forming systems produced by the company
  • To participate in building code application process
  • Perform some technical analysis  
  • To write reports and analysis on current research

Please email a resume and cover letter to info@octaform.com

Topics: seismic, research