Fred McGee summed up the situation best when he told a group of industry leaders, “I need to present a plan to my membership that provides a path to show how our industry is addressing sustainability.”
As executive director of the Architectural Precast Association, McGee clearly understands the question many in the concrete industry are asking: When will there be a common approach in demonstrating that concrete is a sustainable building material?
McGee and about 40 other industry leaders met in September in San Diego at a workshop which was hosted by the Strategic Development Council (SDC). Their goal was to seek support for a plan that will provide guidance for industry stakeholders. Claude Bedard, SDC's chairman, said that this Concrete Sustainability Road-Mapping Workshop was an attempt to include all participants in the process.
Attending the event were suppliers, manufacturers, trade associations, architectural and engineering firms, contractors, and building owners. “Our goal is to map out specific strategies to support a vision and sustainable development goals of the concrete industry,” said Bedard.
“We have a strong basis for this work,” said Bedard, referring to the Concrete Summit on Sustainable Development held in Washington, D.C. last spring. More than 100 stakeholders reviewed presentations from around the world. All were respected experts on how to best present concrete's case in the green movement.
Following the Washington, D.C. meeting, SDC leaders drafted a vision statement that continues to serve as the roadmap: “The vision endorsed by the concrete industry is to transform the way concrete is designed, specified, produced, installed, and applied, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.”
During the San Diego workshop, participants had the opportunity to formulate plans that would lead the way for the concrete industry to take proactive measures in ensuring concrete will become a sustainable material of choice for the construction industry.
“The SDC is providing a unique opportunity for the industry to collectively define concrete's role in sustainable development,” said Doug Sordyl, managing director of the SDC. “This includes continually improving concrete's environmental footprint.”
“Developing a common vision and a road map of specific actions and resources needed is essential, and the diversity of the concrete industry will be beneficial in moving toward that vision,” Sordyl added.
Participants have committed to continue their work toward developing a comprehensive road map. SDC plans to hold the next roadmap workshops on Nov. 29–30 in St. Louis and on April 22–23 in Dallas.