Navajo FlexCrete building systems open for business

Navajo FlexCrete building systems open for businessOfficials attend grand opening(Page, Arizona) The grand opening celebration of the Navajo FlexCrete Building Systems facility on April 28 was a successful gathering of officials from Navajo Housing Authority, the City of Page and State of Arizona.City of Page Mayor Dean Slavens said the opening of Navajo FlexCrete Buildings Systems is a happy occasion and the kind of partnership the city would like to establish with the Navajo Nation.”Let’s make today the beginning, not the end, of more partnerships between the Navajo Nation and the City of Page,” Slavens said.The grand opening celebration was the culmination of several years of work, including the tedious process of setting up logistics for the plant. Washington Mutual Bank, based in Seattle, provided the initial funding to begin construction.Juan Auilar, vice president and business development manager for Washington Mutual Bank, said he was extremely happy to see the doors of the Navajo FlexCrete plant open.”Washington Mutual, Beth Castro and I have long been advocates for Indian nation economic growth and affordable housing. For that reason, we are honored to have played a role in making your dream a reality,” Aguilar said.In 2000, NHA began the construction process and broke ground on the site of the Navajo FlexCrete Building Systems facility with former Navajo Nation President Kelsey Begaye.Begaye was invited to a FlexCrete Building Systems facility in Salt Lake City by Dale Tiegs, a representative of FlexCrete Building Systems, Inc. The facility was miniscule in comparison to the 34,000 square foot facility owned by NHA.Begaye said the FlexCrete idea was brought back to the Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development, which eventually passed on the project. NHA stepped in and ran with the project.”We talked to Mr. Carl, NHA and the board members. And today, we get to witness what took place and how much work went into (Navajo FlexCrete). Thank you NHA,” Begaye said.Five years later, the plant is officially open and in business producing one of the most innovative construction materials available in the building industry.FlexCrete is aerated concrete technology modeled after the autoclave aerated concrete (AAC) material used extensively in Europe for the past century. The primary ingredient in the FlexCrete material is fly ash, recycled from the neighboring Navajo Generating Station, owned and operated by the Salt River Project.The Navajo FlexCrete facility will recycle at least 30,000 tons of the fly ash annually, providing an environmentally friendly component to the building product.The utilization of fly ash in the mixture is three fold: it produces a more cementitious paste; it reduces the amount of water needed to produce a given slump; it reduces the amount of sand needed in the mix to produce workability.Beyond that, fly ash improves corrosion protection and increases sulfate resistance, while reducing alkali-silica reactivity. What this means is fly ash improves the permeability and general durability of concrete.NHA chief executive officer Chester Carl said the road to opening the Navajo FlexCrete Building Systems facility was bumpy and full of twists and turns. Negotiations were stalled several times and NHA kept returning to the table.”The product was introduced to the Navajo Nation through the division of economic development,” Carl said. “In that meeting, there was discussion brought forth to allow the NHA to buy a product.”We took a different approach. What we recommended was that we don’t just become consumers of the product, but to also have ownership stake in the overall project,” Carl added.Based on those negotiations, NHA owns 100 percent of the Navajo FlexCrete Building Systems facility and a 10 percent share in the overall company.”This facility is owned by the Navajo Housing Authority. So, everything that comes out of here is a Navajo product. We also have 10 percent ownership of FlexCrete. Those are negotiations that didn’t come easy,” Carl said.While negotiations to establish Navajo FlexCrete Building Systems didn’t come easily, the production of the product certainly did.FlexCrete building blocks can be utilized for floor and roof panels and is ideal for areas with high winds, wildfires and other extreme conditions. Several tests by the FlexCrete creators have proven this, including the .357 magnum test; the sledgehammer test and of course, the propane fire test.Under all these tests, the durability of the product has withstood all of the testing procedures. Beyond these vital characteristics, FlexCrete is an excellent soundproofing material, ideal for schools, music studios and homes built near high noise areas like freeways and airports.

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