Industry insights masonry

Like few other building materials, the core attributes that have made masonry an effective solution for centuries truly deliver value for stakeholders in modern building design. With evolving building codes demanding enhanced performance – whether it be PSI, thermal or acoustical requirements, masonry gives a designer flexibility in meeting need while not sacrificing aesthetics or functionality for a given structure. In a public-sector environment, where often taxpayer contributions or allocated budget dollars comprise a build budget, accountability is a critical component as well. Can the building endure decades of continual use with minimal maintenance? Can the building perform in terms of manageable heating and cooling needs? Is it resistant to moisture and other weather-related events?

From a cost versus value perspective, both time and extensive research has shown that masonry checks a large portion of these boxes.

JC: Masonry has evolved the concept of value versus performance in recent years. Wall systems have gained popularity in masonry and adoption rates, noticeable when viewing specification rate data, are fueling further research and design. A wall system, by definition, is the combination of building materials commonly using in cavity wall construction and integrating with masonry block to help streamline material distribution and installation time. Insulated concrete masonry units (ICMUs), for example, combine high-performance foam insulation inserts with a traditional Concrete Masonry Unit at the factory – delivering a thermally broken masonry system to a jobsite that’s installed in one pass. This configuration eliminates the need for separate insulation for a wall – thus allowing one contractor to install two layers using a single product. Less product means faster install time – freeing up general contractor scheduling to keep deadlines, or potentially, deliver the structure ahead of time. At 16.2 R value, these ICMUs deliver substantial thermal performance which aids in heating, cooling costs to maintain a structure’s comfort regardless of season.

A: An excellent resource for education on modern masonry is through accredited learning units provided through leading associations like the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Either available online or through in-person sessions, these courses deliver great insight ranging from fundamentals to how masonry can assist in meeting LEED v4 requirements. Another excellent resource is through associations like the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA). The NCMA is a leading voice for not only policy but technical trouble shooting for masons in the field and architects in the design phase.

Finally, it can’t be overstated the impact speaking with fellow peers can create. If you see a great project using masonry in the government space, use social media tools like LinkedIn to connect with the architect and ask questions. We have seen great relationships develop using this approach as most architects share mutual passions and concerns – a peer network offers the best “unbiased” validation and source for opinions.