The average person has no idea that the second most widely used substance in the world - after water - is concrete, but next week leading architects and engineers from all over the world are converging in New York to discuss the incredible advancements this material is bringing about in modern architecture. Redefined as an innovative and environmentally friendly material, concrete is shedding outdated associations with unattractive, urban construction.

Lafarge Group, the world leader in building materials, has invited architects and engineers from around the world to New York to discuss the role of concrete in green construction and innovative design. The Lafarge conference, being held at the Museum of Arts and Design October 1st, coincides with the Columbia University Conference on concrete: "Solid States: Changing Times for Concrete", which Lafarge is sponsoring and which will bring together architects, engineers, and scholars from over 30 countries.

"Thanks to significant scientific research and enormous advances in manufacturing, concrete is no longer heavy, cold, or even always grey," said Bruno Lafont, Chairman and CEO of Lafarge. "Concrete today is beautiful and lively, and enables architectural feats that until now were inconceivable. It is a durable, highly resistant, and aesthetic material that can be 'made to measure' to meet architects' and engineers' evolving needs. Moreover, concrete is essential to economic development taking place across the globe, particularly in emerging markets, where the needs for new housing and infrastructure are immense. We believe it is vital that this construction limit its impact on the environment, and have made great strides in developing innovative solutions to reduce concrete's environmental footprint."

Due to its strength and fire-resistance, concrete can help to ensure that buildings are more likely to withstand extreme conditions, such as those experienced in the event of a natural disaster. The advantages of concrete in such situations have become increasingly evident in recent years, after a number of severe hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes around the world.

Concrete is a natural, inert material. It is 100% recyclable and can be produced from recycled materials. Manufacturing concrete consumes little energy, and since it is a local product, greenhouse gas emissions resulting from transport are limited. Concrete has high thermal mass, which means that it absorbs and releases heat effectively. As a result, less energy is needed to heat or cool buildings, thus lessening the long-term environmental impact of a building.

Architects, engineers, and media interested in attending the Lafarge conference should contact Louise Muth, Director of External Communications for Lafarge North America, at (703) 989-8406; or Diana Postemsky of Kekst and Company at (212) 521-4805.