Atlantis will have New York City, Bangkok, Mumbai, and Miami as new neighbors under the sea due to global sea water rise. The rate of sea level rise is 0.15 inches per year (3.5 mm/year), and the rate has steadily increased over the past decade, which results in a projected 3-6.5 ft (1-2 meter) increase in sea water level by 2100.1 Efforts have been made to protect our cities; the Netherlands has the Delta Works, Tokyo recently built the River Super Levees, Venice has the MOSE Project to protect the lagoon, and New York has a Flood Prevention System comprised of flood walls, levees, and dams, but these efforts are designed to protect their cities against large in rushes of water from storms and floods.2 They will not be sufficient to address steady sea water rise. LafargeHolcim is a concrete company that can help the world face the challenge of sea level rise to preserve our cities and heritage.
Over the past decade, ocean structural engineering has developed significant advances regarding floating concrete structures. The most common uses for buoyant concrete include boat houses, large marine wave attenuators, and marina (mooring/docking) systems. These engineering advances can be deployed to create a massive system of buoyant floats under cities the globe wants to preserve. As our land continues to sink into the sea, concrete will be a pertinent resource to float our existing cities and for new metropolises. For ocean structure design, a lightweight, strong, water-resistant, and tough concrete is structurally supported with steel beams to hold the design shape, while light weight foam fills the structure to prevent flooding. The structure is kept in place by a system of cables to resist lateral movement and allow vertical changes in water level.
LafargeHolcim is the largest concrete producer in the world. Their team of engineers has provided solutions for transportation, mining, energy, and structural projects. One resulting solution is the Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC), and it has been utilized in several nuclear and hydropower projects.3 The LafargeHolcim emphasis on successful and sustainable projects is evident through their client partnerships and innovation. Their diverse concrete and cement portfolio and adept engineering teams are aptly capable of designing innovative materials for floatable structures.
Moving forward, LafargeHolcim faces two significant challenges: engineering a marine concrete and developing a business management team for the specialty concrete. It is quintessential to the project that the engineers develop a concrete that meets demands necessary for floating structures; the concrete needs to be strong to provide complimentary support to steel beams, it requires an adhesive property to stick to itself, steel, and potentially a foam filler, and it needs to be environmentally conscious pertaining to materials used, sustainability, deterioration, and waste. Beyond investing in the engineering team and efforts, LafargeHolcim should develop a strong business management team for the marine concrete. This team would be charged with supply chain management, sales, potential project acquisitions, and environmentally conscious programs. Supply chain concerns would be acquiring quarries and materials need for large scale production. Regarding the environment, as a global leader in the industry LafargeHolcim should welcome their position as a great opportunity to show the world how to responsibility source and create, while having a product that will be sustainable for future generations without negatively impacting the environment. The business team of LafargeHolcim needs to acquire marine projects to test and apply the marine concrete. First mover advantage will assist them in acquiring more projects and allow them to advance their technologies as they engage in more projects with larger scale.
Climate change and rising sea water level is a threat to our greatest coastal cities and low elevation nations. A marine concrete product developed by LafargeHolcim will be a great asset to the world as we globally address the flooding of our homes. Instead of saying goodbye to some our most precious treasures, buoyant concrete float systems could prevent the inevitable and allow us to preserve our beloved cities. Going beyond urban preservation, a marine concrete could provide a utopian platform for which humanity can preserve the biodiversity of our landmasses.
- Henderson, Reinert, Dekhtyar, Migdal: Climate Change in 2016: Implications for Business
- Strauss, American Cities and the Rising Sea
- LafargeHolcim, Website: http://www.lafargeholcim.com/
- AT Design Collection. http://www.atdesignoffice.com/
- The Lilypad, Designed by Vincent Callebaut. http://inhabitat.com/lilypad-floating-cities-in-the-age-of-global-warming
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