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J.C. Roumain helped organize the Concrete Summit on Sustainability.

Long before it became fashionable to be green, J.C. Roumain was urging our industry to accept its responsibility regarding environmental stewardship. For most of the last two decades, Roumain has been an influential voice, as the industry has developed a strategic plan.

An impassioned speaker on cement and concrete's contribution to sustainability, Roumain often begins with a reference to a favorite Native American proverb on which he builds his presentation's theme: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Driven by this ideal, Jean Claude Roumain has been one of the industry's strongest Influencers.

In 2007, Roumain helped organize the Concrete Summit on Sustainability in Washington, D.C. that drew more than 100 industry leaders. The event was facilitated by the Strategic Development Council (SDC) and sponsored by PCA, ACI, and other associations. It was the first time so many key leaders gathered to solely focus on this topic. The summit's success has served as a springboard for greater cooperation on sustainability.

Spurred by this, SDC, with initial financial support from the RMC Research and Education Foundation and NRMCA, conducted two workshops to build on the summit's success. Serving as a co-chair, Roumain was a leader as the group developed a landmark document.

Call to action

The result was “Concrete Sustainability, A Vision for Sustainable Construction using Concrete in North America.” Issued in 2008, the eight-page document projects inspired goals. While it has not been universally adopted by the entire industry, the document has been influential in urging action.

For example, NRMCA has adopted long-range goals for carbon footprint reduction. And ACI has formed a new approach to demonstrate concrete's role in sustainable construction. These and other efforts can be traced to Roumain's influence on the SDC vision statement.

Recently retired as manager of special markets for Holcim, Roumain launched J.C. Roumain & Co. which promotes green construction. One of his clients is attempting to commercialize using rice hull ash in concrete. Roumain also continues to serve on the SDC and is an adjunct senior scientist at the University of Denver.

In October, J.C. Roumain presented “Sustainability through People Process and Product Innovation” at the Colorado Concrete Conference. His presentation, which you can see at www.theconcreteproducer.com, summarizes Roumain's inspirational view of our industry's future.