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Prescriptive versus performance approaches for durability design – The end of innocence?


  • Dedicated to Professor Dr. Bernhard Elsener on the occasion of his 60th birthday.


Most concrete specifications tend to be prescriptive in nature and this can prevent concrete producers from optimizing their mixtures for local materials, and confuses the responsibility for the in-place performance of a structure. While it is generally agreed that performance is a superior way to specify concrete since it should clarify responsibilities and allow for innovation, many parties to construction are leery of adopting performance specifications. One of the major concerns is related to the lack of adequate performance tests and specification limits that relate to field performance. While current test methods are far from perfect, it is thought that there is sufficient experience to use them and that adoption of performance specifications will lead to development of better test methods.

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