Changing the SHAPE of Masonry

By Kyle Weatherly, Carolina Stalite Company

When designing energy efficient concrete masonry buildings, architects and engineers often struggle to meet the demands of new energy codes while trying to stay completive with non-masonry wall systems. Concrete masonry has long been specified because of it durability, structural integrity, fire resistance and design flexibility. However, times are changing and many old traditional masonry components are not keeping up with modern design trends and sustainable performance requirements.

Like most industries, the Expanded Shale Clay and Slate (ESCS) lightweight aggregate manufacturers continually look for ways to improve as well as help their customers find innovative ways to use and design with ESCS. For example, in the concrete masonry industry, several new products and shapes are introduced annually with little to moderate success. However, one ESCS manufacturer has been successful in bringing a new innovative approach to the construction and performance of traditional concrete block walls.

This approach uses a series of balanced “A” and “H” block shapes that has changed the way architects, engineers, block producers and masons view the future of masonry. The units were designed for ease of manufacturing on existing equipment, transporting efficiencies (fewer trucks and less breakage), speed of construction, as well as mason safety and longevity. As is the case with all previous variations of ESCS lightweight masonry units, when these new units are produced with ESCS aggregates, increased energy efficiency due to the higher R-values and improved thermal bridging properties are realized.

Since its introduction in 2014, over 2 million of these new units have been placed throughout the United States and are being manufactured by twenty block producers.