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Australia bound! Concrete panels may revolutionize construction, energy conservation

  • Fager-McGee Resilient Building Division team members Gerald DeNeal, left, and Eric Gregg stand next to a shipping container loaded and bound for Australia Wednesday afternoon.

    Fager-McGee Resilient Building Division team members Gerald DeNeal, left, and Eric Gregg stand next to a shipping container loaded and bound for Australia Wednesday afternoon.
    TRAVIS DENEAL PHOTO

  • Eric Gregg, right, documents loading EVG 3-D panels Wednesday afternoon.

    Eric Gregg, right, documents loading EVG 3-D panels Wednesday afternoon.
    TRAVIS DENEAL PHOTO

  • Strata Worldwide member Jimmy Hise prepares to secure a load of EVG 3-D panels at the Ridgway manufacturing facility.

    Strata Worldwide member Jimmy Hise prepares to secure a load of EVG 3-D panels at the Ridgway manufacturing facility.
    TRAVIS DENEAL PHOTO

  • Gerald DeNeal, at right, keeps an eye on an arrangement of EVG 3-D panels as Strata Worldwide member John Will prepares to lift the structure with a forklift.

    Gerald DeNeal, at right, keeps an eye on an arrangement of EVG 3-D panels as Strata Worldwide member John Will prepares to lift the structure with a forklift.
    TRAVIS DENEAL PHOTO

 
By Travis DeNeal tdeneal@dailyregister.com
updated: 2/20/2021 2:48 PM

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS -- Despite below-freezing temperatures and ice still covering many roadways, a company with a revolutionary construction product spent Wednesday preparing an important export.

Fager-McGee Commercial Construction Co.'s Resilient Building Division is working with an Australian defense contractor to provide a prototype construction panel designed to stand up to bomb blasts, hurricane winds and loud noises, plus save a bundle on power bills. Designers say the product will be a game-changer in the construction world.

"This is a product that has the ability to change the way we build worldwide," says Fager-McGee Resilient Building team member Eric Gregg. "And it's all from a manufacturing facility here in Ridgway."

The panels have a foam core with wire mesh reinforcing them and are manufactured by Strata Worldwide. The panels, known as EVG 3-D panels, are installed, and then sprayed with what's known as "shotcrete," a sprayable form of concrete. The construction process results in walls that are superior to current concrete construction methods, and that's what the Australian company wants to test, Gregg said.

"This product will meet energy standards set by the Department of Defense for the year 2045. We can meet them now," Gregg said. "This is going to be a game-changer as energy conservation continues to come to the forefront."

The Australian company intends to use the panels with a new mix of concrete that will be able to make structures that can survive a missile blast, Gregg said.

On Wednesday, a semi rolled in with a shipping container, and team members sprang to work. Gregg and fellow Resilient Building Division team member Gerald DeNeal, who has been directing the project, loaded the EVG 3-D panels into the container with the help of Strata Worldwide members Jimmy Hise and John Will.

About an hour later, the truck driver was hauling the container toward St. Louis. When the container is finally shipped to the west coast, it will be loaded on a ship headed for Sydney, Australia.

The construction panels are also part of the company's design for the Department of Defense's AFWERX Challenge, which offers opportunities for working with the U.S. government, military and allies, for creating more resilient and energy-efficient structures. Fager-McGee is in the top 170 companies competing globally.

In the meantime, Gregg said he, DeNeal and business partner Jim Lancaster know the possibilities the EVG 3-D panels offer are limitless. Recent issues in some states related to cold weather and running out of electricity have highlighted the need for building construction that saves individuals and governments money, Gregg said.

"We can cut energy costs by 60 percent with this construction," he said. "There's an energy paradigm shift coming and we're ahead of the curve."