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Thoughts from a LEED AP

Joe Piedimonte, a green building project manager and CFO of Castroville-based Ausonio Incorporated, is a LEED accredited professional with over 20 years experience in the construction and retail industries. His LEED accreditation is in New Construction as well as Existing Buildings. He coordinated LEED submittals for Ausonio on the Chartwell School Platinum LEED project. Piedimonte can be reached at 831-633-3371 or

TCA: What does the Tilt-Up industry need to know about green and sustainability?

Piedimonte: Green and sustainable practices are coming our way. Public and non-profits have led the way in adding these requirements. Private companies will follow when it makes sense to save energy or create a good working environment for their people. In the future, local and state governments will introduce voluntary green and sustainable guidelines. Rest assured that the voluntary guidelines will become mandatory over time and we will all be building green.

TCA: Why is Tilt-Up a fit for LEED?

Piedimonte: Tilt-Up construction is a fit for LEED since it uses materials that are sustainable, available locally or are made with recycled content. Tilt-Up construction also has benefits to energy efficiency such as creating a tight envelope and having thermal mass.

TCA: How is Tilt-Up a fit for LEED?

Piedimonte: Tilt-Up construction is a sustainable way of building since it saves forest timber compared to wood framed buildings. The materials in the concrete are normally available within 500 miles of the project, which reduces transportation costs. This is considered under the Regional Materials credit in LEED. Rebar and structural steel can have a higher recycled content than metal buildings.

With its thick concrete walls and long panels, Tilt-Up construction provides a tighter envelope than most construction. When properly insulated, this air tight building causes the HVAC system to work less, saving energy. The thermal mass of concrete absorbs heat during the day and emits that heat in the evening. When insulated properly, there is an energy efficient advantage to this thermal mass.

TCA: Please dispel any misconceptions about the use of Tilt-Up concrete in a LEED project.

Piedimonte: One of the common misconceptions about green buildings is that they need to be made of some unique material such as straw bales. The next misconception is that green building costs more than standard construction. A Tilt-Up building can be built with standard materials and qualify for LEED credits. Aside from insulation required to meet minimum energy performance, there are no extra costs to a Tilt-Up building for it to comply as a LEED certified project.

TCA: Even if a project isn’t seeking LEED Certification, what elements of LEED can be incorporated to the betterment of the project?

Piedimonte: A sustainable building’s construction should focus on durability and reducing operating expenses. We have a 70,000-square-foot building that we are currently designing. The owners decided that the additional expense to have the building certified was out of their budget. We still managed to convince them to incorporate paints, adhesives and flooring materials that are low in volatile organic compounds. This creates a less toxic environment for clients and their employees, without breaking the budget. We have also added efficient glazing and lighting controls since this saves the owner on operating expenses. They are even considering our recommendation to commission the mechanical, electrical and plumbing system. We have emphasized that the additional cost for this LEED prerequisite will actually save energy and identify system problems before they fail.

TCA: Who is driving the decision to use Tilt-Up on your projects?

Piedimonte: If the building is large enough to feasibly propose a Tilt-Up building, we will propose a Tilt-Up facility. We do emphasize the fact that Tilt-Up construction has great qualities for building durability and energy-savings. The final design is ultimately the client’s decision.

TCA: Who is driving the decision to use green or sustainable elements on your project? What about LEED Certification?

Piedimonte: Some clients approach us to build green because of our expertise and experience. In other cases, we try to present green building as an option. Either way, we always present LEED certification for consideration because of the longterm benefits and the increase in building value.

TCA: How can a Tilt-Up contractor, engineer, architect or product supplier capitalize on the growing green and sustainable movement?

Piedimonte: Capitalizing on the movement requires a commitment to educate your staff. We have dedicated one day a week to learn more about green technologies. Clients can tell if you are knowledgeable. Some will even expect you to be committed to this type of construction as well.

TCA: How does Tilt-Up compare to other building methods with regard to LEED Certification?

Piedimonte: Tilt-Up construction can help you achieve credits for Recycled Content and Regional Materials. Indirectly, Tilt-Up construction can help your budget for the credit that you get for using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) lumber, since lumber becomes a smaller part of the project.

TCA: Where do you see the role of Tilt-Up in the green/sustainable movement in the future?

Piedimonte: Tilt-Up construction has few limitations in the green/sustainable movement. As an industry, we will be in a position to offer green buildings at affordable pricing. This is the key to gaining market share.

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.