As the cement industry emerges from the recession, it’s expected to embark on a period of sustained growth fueled by infrastructure investment, sustainable construction and a shift in market dynamics in paving, the Portland Cement Association announced in a press release.

This will be discussed in more detail during “Cement Outlook: Turnaround in 2010 Signals Return to Sustained Growth,” a Webcast presentation by the association’s President and CEO Brian McCarthy scheduled for 11 a.m. CST, Wednesday, Dec. 9.

The expected turnaround in demand and consumption of cement is coming at a time when the industry can really use a jump-start: Since reaching its peak in 2005, cement consumption has declined by about 45 percent, and the actual decline in usage represents the worst volume decline in the industry’s history.

However, according to the PCA, cement consumption is projected to increase by 5.2 percent in 2010, the first year-to-year rise since the middle of the decade. Beyond that, demographics and pent-up demand is expected to grow consumption to a greater degree in 2011 and 2012 and beyond.

In 2011, the association is projecting an overall increase of 16.5 percent in cement consumption in the U.S. versus 2010 levels, with another incremental 14.5 percent increase in 2012.

A series of factors are increasing demand for concrete as a highly sustainable, cost-effective building material for a wide variety of uses including roads, bridges, and both residential and commercial buildings.

Among the factors is a paradigm shift in the cost of building concrete roads versus asphalt roads. In the past, the short-term investment to build an asphalt road was less than the cost of building a concrete road – even though concrete enjoyed a significant cost advantage over the life of the road. However, in 2009, that short-term advantage disappeared completely – accelerated by an increase in the cost of asphalt – and concrete is now not only a more durable solution for building roads, it is also a less costly solution both for the long term as well as for the initial investment.

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