Specifying a 100-year service life is gaining popularity, which may help focus project team attention on long-term performance, but doesn’t necessarily provide the assurance public owners seek. By specifying and expecting 100-year durability, which is actually not accurate enough to truly be guaranteed, the industry is putting potentially hollow faith in the future longevity of built infrastructure since no consensus-based standardized path currently exists. It is important that an appropriate tool is developed.
That’s why Oscar Antommattei, P.E., FACI, Concrete Engineering Manager of Kiewit Engineering Group is working with American Concrete Institute (ACI) Committee 201, Durability, to develop consensus-based standards that can help design and construction teams build durability into project service life requirements.
“Everyone has their own idea of ‘100-year project,’ but there’s no consensus basis to determine what’s going to be used for estimating, designing, building such projects, and that’s the challenge. There’s no way to verify the certainty of those predictions. And, from a practical standpoint, nobody working on the project is going to be here in 100 years to confirm it.”
Antommattei grew up in Puerto Rico. After earning a civil engineering degree from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, he worked for Cemex and a general contractor. Then it was on to Clemson University for a master’s in civil engineering with an emphasis on construction materials. He then worked for forensic engineering firm Carrasquillo Associates in Austin, Texas, for about seven years before becoming Kiewit’s concrete specialist in May 2012.“I knew enough to accept Kiewit’s offer, but after six months I knew it was the best professional decision I ever made,” he says. “The great thing is that the design and construction groups are working together at all times. There are great people and culture in Kiewit that made me realize this is a career, not just a job. It’s a life and I’m very happy with it. There are always new challenges and great opportunities.”
Antommattei’s role at Kiewit led to his involvement in the development of standards for mass concrete and his commitment to getting more involved with the development of durability standards for concrete structures. At the recent Infrastructure Imperative conference, he and SIMCO Technologies Co-Founder Jacques Marchand discussed issues surrounding a 100-year service life requirement.
“While there has been lots of talk about long-term durability, the contractor’s voice has been left out of the discussion until now,” he says. “Much of this trend for long-term durability has happened now because the tools we have are getting better and that raises expectations for durability in design and construction of large infrastructure projects.”
Oscar remains optimistic. “An industry consensus is coming. When that happens, it will be a place you can go to get protocols for the different projects you’re going to build. Eventually, you’ll be able to guarantee your long-term performance with a sounder approach that is backed by more reliable data and not just subjective conjecture.”