Launch Slideshow

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Above the Deluge

Above the Deluge

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    The elevated structure at Houston's Simms Bayou wastewater treatment plant protects key equipment such as pumps from potential floodwaters such as those which affected the city during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.

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    An Easi-Set precast concrete building is set atop cast-in-place concrete piers to protect pumps from corrosive saltwater during floods. Photos: Lonestar Prestress Mfg. Inc.

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    To address future flooding concerns at wastewater treatment plants in coastal Texas, Lonestar Prestress Mfg. Inc. capitalized on the idea of using precast concrete structures by installing them on cast-in-place floor slabs where extra height was needed.

In most cases, prefabricated buildings are set on a level bed of gravel, but in this case they were set on elevated installations—quickly and effectively en-closing critical control equipment such as pumps and switchgear in secure, durable, low-maintenance structures.

Comparable built-in-place concrete block buildings require an engineered design, which drives up the costs. The steel-reinforced buildings withstand winds of up to 150 mph and have a seismic rating of zone 4, compared to metal buildings engineered to 140 mph winds, which are typically more expensive: On another project, an Easi-Set 30x50-foot building was $150/square foot, compared to metal at $200/square foot.

The installation of an Easi-Set building also saves time, Peeples says, allowing the site to become operational quicker. With a built-in floor, no foundations or footings are required, unless by local code. A level six-inch layer of sand or crushed stone on an approved subgrade is all the preparation required.

“We chose these types of buildings because they'll protect our equipment and help keep the plants running during a hurricane,” Peeples says.

— Leo Rowe is sales manager for Lonestar Prestress Manufacturing Inc. in Houston.