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October 31, 2011 12:30 PM CDT

Hotel reduces carbon footprint using concrete masonry units

The project was able to achieve cost savings while reducing carbon emissions


When the new Hilton Garden Inn opened in Watertown, NY this fall it was an important addition to the area's business community. Not only did it add 136 deluxe rooms to the local hotel market, but it has first class meeting rooms and a ball room with seating for up to 300 people. The building offers not only an attractive design, but also was constructed using innovative sustainable design techniques which reduced its environmental impact. This innovative approach featuring shallow frost-protected foundations and concrete masonry building walls was a collaboration between Taylor Concrete Products and the project architect: GYMO Architecture, engineering & Land Surveying PC, Watertown.

When planning the four story structure the developer and GYMO specified concrete masonry construction. They sought the aesthetic beauty, durability and fire safety that only concrete masonry provides.

The masonry material chosen was FM2000 concrete block manufactured locally by Taylor Concrete Products in Watertown. Taylor Concrete's FM2000 product offered higher than standard compressive strength as well as important environmental benefits through the use of recycled raw materials available from within the region.

Under a program initiated by the New York State Concrete Masonry Association, FM2000 concrete block are built to have compressive strength of at least 2,800 psi, 45% stronger than conventional concrete block made to ASTM industry stand ards. The product is manufactured subject to a rigid testing program b y an independent testing laboratory. Utilizing the higher strength units allows engineers to design structures either using smaller sized units or utilizing reduced reinforcement, thus realizing significant savings in both material and labor during construction. Taylor Concrete has enhanced the FM2000 program further by manufacturing its block using recycled material, while still exceeding the strict strength standards. The company has substituted slag cement, reprocessed blast furnace waste, for 20% of the Portland cement normally used. This change reduced the greenhouse emissions related to manufacturing the block by 20%.

The four story hotel was constructed using concrete block and prestressed concrete plank. With 64,000 square feet of interior and exterior walls, the project used over 70,000 8 inch and 10 inch concrete masonry units. The use of conventional concrete masonry units would have required 29.3 tons on reinforcing steel and 265 cubic yards of grout, but by utilizing Taylor Concrete's FM2000 block only 11.9 ton of rebar and 132.5 cubic yards of grout were needed.

This reduction in grout and reinforcing steel generated savings of over $60,000 in ma terial costs alone. By decreasing the amount of grout to be poured and the number of reinforcing bars to be handled, a 5% increase in productivity was achieved by the masons laying the block which generated additional savings.

The reduction in the amount of grout and steel reinforcing equated to carbon emission savings of approximately 47 tons. The replacement of Portland cement with recycled material during the manufacture of the blocks created an additional carbon emission savings of approximately 31 tons, for a total carbon emission savings of approximately 78 tons.

Along with other innovative design characteristics, the use of high strength masonry enabled the developer to achieve a structure with important fire safety and environmental features that is an attractive addition to the community.

About the Author

Taylor Concrete Products, Inc. has been a leading masonry producer in Northern New York since the late 1920's. For more information visit


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