The Role of Concrete Industry Standards as Institutional Barriers to More Sustainable Concrete Bridge Infrastructure
The concrete construction industry is governed by a network of codes and standards that ensure safety and quality. This study evaluates two central concrete construction industry standards related to bridge construction to determine if these standards inhibit more sustainable concrete bridge construction. Using social networking tools, ASTM C150-05: Standard Specification for Portland Cement and American Concrete Institute (ACI) 211.1-91/09 Standard Practice for Proportioning Normal, Heavyweight, and Mass Concrete, were identified as “central” concrete industry standards and were evaluated to test whether central concrete industry standards pose institutional barriers to innovation for sustainable concrete construction. Results indicate that while these standards do not explicitly inhibit more sustainable concrete practice, the manner in which they are used implicitly impedes more sustainable concrete construction and innovation for sustainability. Specifically, ASTM C150-05 does not inhibit the use of cement materials with lower environmental impact, but industry demand for rapid construction and institutionalized use of C150-05 to the exclusion of other environmentally preferable products does inhibit more sustainable concrete construction. Similarly, mixes designed for durability using performance-based specifications exhibit reduced annual energy and material impacts compared to mixtures traditionally designed using ACI 211.1-91/09.