Category Sustainability

London Olympics: The Future of Sustainability


The 2012 Olympics are now underway, and everyone is tuning in to watch world-tier athletes compete for fame, glory, and personal fulfillment. Team USA stars like Michael Phelps, Lolo Jones, Alexander Massialas, Natalie Coughlin and Gabrielle Douglas are filling headlines and capturing the rapt attention of American audiences (and fans worldwide!).  But among the many Olympics categories, such as synchronized swimming, fencing and sprinting, there is one other “event” that is four years in the making: Olympic Architecture!

When a city is declared the official location for the next Olympic Games, local designers and construction workers immediately get to work. They need to create venues that will both match the majesty of the occasion and dazzle tourists. These stadiums stand as a symbol of national pride and are often massive revenue sources for local government, so their designs are definitely not taken lightly! And this year, sustainability and eco-conscious design were very important. The Olympic Stadium was built as a landmark achievement in eco-friendly design.


London’s Olympic Stadium is located in Olympic Park, Stratford, London, U.K. For the building, the London Olympics created a Sustainability Plan which includes 5 major tenets.

  1. Climate change — greenhouse gas emissions were reduced and facilities were designed to be adaptable to climate change.
  2. Waste – there was clear focus on minimizing it every step of the way in the construction of the project, preventing any landfill use during the actual games,
    and utilization of new East London waste processing methods.
  3. Biodiversity – protecting the local wildlife and their habitats was critical.
  4. Inclusion – attendance was encouraged by all peoples at the Games, and new employment and business opportunities for citizens of the UK were created.
  5. Healthy Living — an obvious and inherent part of the Olympic Games, the building and events are meant to encourage and inspire sports and the adoption of
    healthy, sustainable lifestyles.

To these ends, the stadium’s composition is over 30% recycled, and it uses 60% less potable water than similar contemporary stadia. A special cold foam process was used for the access roads, which reduces the energy needed to lay them and adds to the total recycled content.

Another important feature of the stadium facilities? They’re “temporary” designs, meaning that they can be reduced in size once Olympics 2012 are over. This way, they won’t simply become ghost towns using up valuable space and wasting precious resources. During the games the stadium seats 80,000, but after the closing ceremonies it can be reduced in size to a 60,000-seat permanent stadium in legacy when the upper tiers are removed. In addition, this stadium uses half the steel of most modern stadiums, which makes it the lightest Olympic Stadium ever constructed.

The Aquatics Centre, home to the legendary Olympic water sports and designed by Zaha Hadid, is also temporary in design. Seating 17,500 people for the Games, it can be reduced dramatically to a 2,500-seater when the two wings are removed. Ammonia-based chillers were used instead of traditional HFC chillers, reducing the climate change impact. The post-games design for the Centre was built to the BREEAM excellent standard.

aquatics centre

Sustainability is a big concern in the world today. John D’Amelio, President of Precast Specialties Corp., has always emphasized the value of precast and its role in a project’s LEED certification. Precast concrete wall panels can often be reused because they are so durable. It also minimizes waste on the job site, and it’s partially composed of recycled materials like fly ash and recycled steel. Precast concrete is inherently sustainable, and a great choice for eco-friendly construction.

The Olympic Stadium facilities were recently nominated for the 2012 Stirling Prize, the top award for architecture in Britain. And you bet precast concrete has something to do with it! Precast seating tiers and plinth, combined with the white main structural elements and the secondary ones colored black, make quite the flashy ensemble that is also quite friendly to the environment! All in all, the facilities will provide an impressive and cutting edge stage for some of the greatest athletes in the world, and should inform and inspire building design for years to come.

Photo Credit: Times Live, Architecture List, Web Designer Depot


Precast Specialties Corp. specializes in architectural concrete panels, concrete roadway products and exceptional custom precast products including seawall panels, boat ramps and large support piers. All of our custom products are cast in our factory utilizing 5,000 psi, super-plasticized, air-entrained concrete. We can produce virtually any color, finish or texture to meet your project needs. Find out what our clients and contractors have to say about our work, or see for yourself by contacting us for your next project at:

Precast Specialties Corp.
999 Adams Street
P.O. Box 86
Abington, MA 02351
Tel: (781)878-7220
Fax: (781)878-7464

FM Global Office Project Completed


FM Global

Precast Specialties Corp. is happy to share this finished Norwood, Massachusetts building. We touched on the project in an earlier post last fall, but it has recently been completed. Hobbs Brook Management LLC, a pioneer in the development of office space in Boston-area suburbs, managed progress on this building, which should soon receive LEED certification. It’s located at 1175 Boston/Providence Highway in Norwood, Massachusetts. The office building houses two companies: Dedham Medical Associates and FM Global, a worldwide force in business property insurers. Ground was first broken for the project on October 21st, 2011.

FM Global 2

It was designed by Margulies Perruzzi Architects and constructed by the Columbia Construction Company. The panels were erected by American Steel & Precast Erectors of Greenfield, NH. Precast Specialties Corp. provided this project with ninety-five dark-buff colored precast panels with ribbed features and a monolithic sun shade.

Hobbs Brook Management LLC has emphasized energy efficiency and green building practices for over thirty years. This office building was no different. Constructed as a high-performance green building, the project has a laundry list of efficiency features, including irrigation-water-reducing indigenous and drought-resistant plant materials, a high reflection roof to disperse sunlight, and solar shaded windows. It all adds up to one impressive, eco-friendly office building for Dedham Medical and FM Global, and hopefully some new job positions for Norwood, MA residents. The 200 FM Global employees relocating to this building certainly have something to look forward to!

 FM Global 3

Precast Specialties Corp. specializes in architectural concrete panels, concrete roadway products and exceptional custom precast products including seawall panels, boat ramps and large support piers. All of our custom products are cast in our factory utilizing 5,000 psi, super-plasticized, air-entrained concrete. We can produce virtually any color, finish or texture to meet your project needs. We are dedicated to helping construct LEED certified buildings that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Find out what our clients and contractors have to say about our work, or see for yourself by contacting us for your next project at:

Precast Specialties Corp.
999 Adams Street
P.O. Box 86
Abington, MA 02351
Tel: (781)878-7220
Fax: (781)878-7464

Precast Concrete Harnessing Solar Power


Chalk another one up for precast concrete and environmental support! Concentrated solar power, also known as CSP, is a renewable energy source that is quickly gaining momentum around the world. Using giant mirrors or lenses, CPS systems concentrate a large area of sunlight onto a smaller area. The solar thermal energy powers a heat engine, which powers an electrical generator. Swiss firm Airlight Energy is a major player in the CPS game, and they have been using precast concrete to build the parabolic troughs.

Solar Precast

The troughs are built with precast concrete in the reinforced frame. The frame tilts to follow the sun’s position throughout the day. Precast was used because it reinforces the stiffness under the wind pressure, allowing the trough to be larger and support a greater concentration of solar power. It’s also useful because it reduces material and construction costs associated with using metallic structures.

Solar Precast

The mirrors, which magnify the sun’s rays, are super light pneumonic air pillow systems. These patented mirrors are much cheaper than traditional mirror technology but still get higher solar concentration. Win-win!

We think these mirrors are very cool, like something out of science-fiction. Well… they do say truth is often stranger than fiction.


Precast Specialties Corp. specializes in architectural concrete panels, concrete roadway products and exceptional custom precast products including seawall panels, boat ramps and large support piers. All of our custom products are cast in our factory utilizing 5,000 psi, super-plasticized, air-entrained concrete. We can produce virtually any color, finish or texture to meet your project needs. Find out what our clients and contractors have to say about our work, or see for yourself by contacting us for your next project at:

Precast Specialties Corp.
999 Adams Street
P.O. Box 86
Abington, MA 02351

Tel: (781)878-7220
Fax: (781)878-7464
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Architecture Spotlight: Cannon Design


Innovation in Architecture, Engineering and Interior Design

Canisus CollegeCanisius College – Montante Cultural Center – Photo Property of Cannon Design

At Precast Specialties Corp., innovation is a core part of our business culture. Far beyond precast concrete, our custom capabilities and product line expansions including the new Solar Products Group and TX Active Photocatalytic cement mean that we constantly strive to offer the very best products to serve the ever-changing needs of clients. We applaud firms that share our passion for innovation and today, we are featuring multifaceted architecture firm Cannon Design.

Boston UniversityBoston University – Fitness and Recreation Center – Photo Property of Cannon Design

A quick glance over Cannon Design’s work and it’s clear that this architecture, engineering and interior design firm creates projects that are not only functional but also stretch the imagination and break boundaries.

Hauptman-Woodward Research InstituteHauptman-Woodward Research Institute – Structural Biology Research Center – Photo Property of Cannon Design

Self-proclaimed as an “Ideas Based Practice,” Cannon is ranked among the leading international firms in planning and design for an impressive array of clients from healthcare, science and technology, education, sports and recreation, commercial and government. Bank of America, Brigham and Women’s, Cornell University, Fenway Park, Herman Miller and West Point are all clients of Cannon, along with many others.

Featured Architecture Firm: Anmahian Winton Architects


American Indian Center
Photo via Anmahian Winton Architects – American Indian Learning Resource Center (AILRC) will be one of the country’s leading American Indian centers at the University of Minnesota – Duluth

At Cambridge-based Anmahian Winton Architects, “architecture is an expression of culture, forged in relation to a complex set of circumstances that are at once practical and intangible…a synthesis of place, program, and community that enhances the rituals of everyday life and fosters a sense of well-being. It inspires, invigorates, and educates.” (AW Philosophy)

In addition to the belief that architecture elevates and enhances our daily lives, Anmahian Winton also maintains an exceptionally high standard for environmental stewardship with nearly all of the institutional and commercial projects being designed to achieve a LEED Gold certification, or better. As the firm explains, “Regardless of a project’s LEED goals, we are committed to designing buildings that carefully consider project impact on micro and macro ecosystems, that provide tangible operating benefits for our clients, and that create environmental benefits for our communities.” (AW Sustainable Design)

Precast Specialties Corp. would like to recognize this impressive firm whose vision combined with a focus on sustainability has led to award-winning, visually stunning projects including the Honor Award for Interior Architecture, 2012 from the American Institute of Architects and the American Architecture Award, 2011 from The Chicago Athenaeum for the Joukowsky Institute at Brown University (shown below).

Joukowsky InstitutePhoto via Anmahian Winton Architects – Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University

Precast Specialties Corp. Now Certified as a Producer in Using TX Active Photocatalytic Cement by Essroc Cement


TX Active Photocatalytic Cement
Introducing the Photocatalytic City: A Vision of the Environmental Future. (TX Active)

Staying up-to-date on the latest in green technology and products in the precast concrete world is constantly part of the Precast Specialties Corp. mission. We are proud to announce that we’ve been certified as a producer in using the revolutionary TX Active line of photocatalytic cement from Essroc Cement.

Essroc is a leading North American cement producer with over 6.5 million metric tons of annual capacity. Their TX Active products, TX Arca® and TX Aria®, are premier products utilizing photocatalytic properties to reduce pollutants and self-clean.

“Photocatalysis is a natural phenomenon in which a substance, the photocatalytic principle, utilizes light to alter the speed of a chemical reaction. By taking advantage of the energy of light, the principle will accelerate the formation of strong oxidizing reagents which will result in the decomposition of organic and inorganic pollutants. These pollutants are responsible for gathering on the surface of concrete causing discoloration, as well as, many health related issues. Photocatalysis is an accelerator of an oxidation process that already exists in nature. It promotes faster decomposition of pollutants and prevents them from accumulating.” (TX Active)

Ideal for precast panels from Precast Specialties Corp., TX Active photocatalytic cement greatly reduces or eliminates occurrences of soot, grime, and organic particulates, mold, mildew, fungus, and their spores, algae, bacteria, and allergens as well as tobacco smoke and stains that can stain or damage panels. In addition to self-cleaning, TX Active reduces pollutants including Nitrogen Oxides, Sulfur Oxides, Volatile Organic Compounds including benzene and toluene, Ammonia, Carbon Monoxide and Organic Chloride, creating safer, healthier environments.

To see TX active in action, visit

As one of only 13 U.S. architectural precast producers currently certified to use TX Active, Precast Specialties Corp. is pleased to be able to offer this innovative new product to our customers.

Precast Concrete for Sustainability, Safety and the Future


NPCA Concrete Facts
At Precast Specialties Corp., our mission is to embrace sustainable practices and continually educate our customers about the benefits of precast concrete as a sustainable building material. The following facts are from the National Precast Concrete Association’s “The Little Green Book of Concrete”, a great resource for precast information that we recommend reading!

- All the materials that go into precast concrete come from natural and recycled sources, mainly inorganic.

- Transportation costs can double the carbon footprint of construction materials through the burning of fossil fuels, which makes locally produced material, like precast concrete, more environmentally friendly.

- Many precast plants now incorporate concrete wastewater and cement recycling systems.

- Unlike other construction materials, precast concrete erection is much less disruptive to the site environment, producing far less construction debris, dust, noise and pollution.

- All reinforcing steel is made from 100 percent steel scrap. All reinforcing bars used in precast concrete are made from recycled steel. At the end of a precast structure’s life, the reinforcement can be recovered for recycling again.

- As with many concrete products, precast is easy to crush and recycle for use as aggregate – almost 100 percent of a concrete building can be recycled, no matter how heavily reinforced.

- Precast concrete is manufactured in plants under strictly controlled conditions, which means excellent resource efficiency for materials, labor, energy and processes.

- The easy installation of precast products makes for less noise pollution from the construction site, a significant benefit to those inhabiting or working in adjoining properties.

- The durability and long service life of precast products means fewer repairs and generations of service, which means less use of energy and natural resources during the lifetime of a product when compared with other materials.

- Over 60 years, a concrete home emits up to 15 tons less carbon dioxide than a lightweight alternative, thereby providing an environmentally better long-term solution.

- With operational energy (heating and cooling systems) accounting for about 90 percent of the energy consumption of a building, the ability of precast concrete systems to moderate temperature extremes is both economically important and good for the environment.

What Makes Precast Concrete a Sustainable Building Material? Durability.


Durable Precast Concrete
Strong, sustainable, high performance precast concrete resists weather, fire, corrosion, accidental damage and vandalism. It will not burn, rust or rot. It can be used for versatile and customizable architectural applications, roadway products, landscaping needs and sound barriers. No matter what the application, durable precast concrete from Precast Specialties Corp. contributes to the sustainable design of New England’s built environment.

The extended service life of a structure designed and built with sustainable precast concrete has a reduced environmental impact, yet durability does not prevent design flexibility. We offer a versatile selection of surface textures and colors in a variety of shapes and sizes to make your sustainable precast concrete buildings attractive for a lifetime of low-maintenance durability.

The New Solar Products Group Marks Impressive Expansion for Precast Specialties Corp.


Solar Products Group with custom precast foundations and ballast assemblies for ground mount systems
With a continued focus on sustainable, eco-friendly practices and products, Precast Specialties Corp. is proud to announce the formation of our new Solar Products Group.

Formed to meet a growing need for the solar photovoltaic industry that is rapidly growing throughout the Northeast and beyond, the Solar Products Group manufactures custom precast foundations and ballast assemblies for ground mount systems in addition to standard and custom sized ballast blocks for roof mount applications. We’ve been producing precast components for many of the large solar projects in New England and can offer customers the experience and reliability to deliver price and schedule that is critical to the success of a project. Having architectural precast capability in our DNA allows us to fabricate any shape, color or features necessary to meet any aesthetic or structural requirement in addition to efficiently producing standard, repeatable product to meet any schedule.

Solar Products Group Easthampton Project

As the precast industry continues to evolve, along with a focus on solar, Precast Specialties Corp. has maintained a focus on high quality, low cost products including architectural precast panels, precast roadway products and custom precast products. Our Abington, MA-based facility is certified by both the Architectural Precast Association (APA) and National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA). Please contact Tim Breen at for more information and additional pricing.

Featured Architecture Firm: Spagnolo Gisness & Associates


Riverbank Lofts
Riverbank Lofts, Watertown, MA

Spagnolo Gisness & Associates (SG&A) was founded by Al Spagnolo, Bill Gisness and Jeff Tompkins as a full service architectural, interior design and planning firm. With their mission, “to respond to each client’s vision through communication, collaboration, creativity and mutual trust,” SG&A provides an array of services from master plans, to feasibility and due diligence studies, to program analysis, site selection and more.

Sustainability is an important facet of the firm. SG&A believes that “as designers, we should embrace the obligation to educate our clients, and each other, in maintaining stewardship of our precious resources” which is why they explore eco-friendly strategies with clients and have teamed up with Precast Specialties Corp. on several projects including the Riverbank Lofts in Watertown, MA.

SG&A has received multiple awards for their innovative and unique designs. Recently, they won the Connecticut Climate Change Leadership Award for the ING Regional Headquarters project, the RIAGC Build Rhode Island Award for the GTECH Center and BOMA Boston’s “The Office Building of the Year” for One Brigham Circle.

Precast Specialties Corp. recognizes Spagnolgo Gisness & Associates for their creativity, dedication to their clients and commitment to sustainability and as an invaluable partner for future projects.