Globally, concrete production is more than double that of plastic, wood, steel and aluminum – combined.
By Kyle Kerstiens, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP
While our industry takes great pride in the global production rate of concrete, it also means that manufacturers of competitive materials are pointing to cement production’s inherent carbon dioxide emissions – regardless of the fact that concrete meets or exceeds the sustainability of these other materials in the long run. Nonetheless, NPCA has joined with 27 other organizations associated with the concrete industry to focus on the sustainability of concrete applications. In the spring of 2009, the Concrete Joint Sustainability Initiative (CJSI) was formed to provide a unified voice for our industry. CJSI members meet face to face quarterly to discuss goals and to improve and advocate the sustainable attributes of concrete structures.
The Initiative supports five main goals in its mission statement:
- Continuous Improvement – Continuously improve industry processes, products and the societal benefits of the concrete industry.
- Research and Design – Advance the understanding of the social value of concrete structures through research, and increase adoption of those values into the design process.
- Educate – Demonstrate, enhance and improve the sustainability of concrete structures through educational activities.
- Communicate – Increase the preference of our products by enhancing the awareness of the social values of concrete structures, our process improvements, and product advancements by our stakeholders.
- Advocate – Develop a communication outreach of collaboration on public relations and press materials.
So what have the CJSI members been working on recently?
- CJSI recently sponsored the Concrete Pavilion at Greenbuild in Chicago. Member organizations selected booths in proximity to the designated concrete pavilion and handed out flyers, lapel pins and even T-shirts to help spread the message of sustainability. NPCA will be in Toronto Oct. 4-7 for Greenbuild 2011.
- CJSI members worked together to stay informed about the EPA’s public hearings on fly ash and to persuade industry experts to testify on behalf of concrete.
- CJSI created a collaborative website (www.sustainableconcrete.org). Members are working to add additional information including case studies and information created by the MIT Sustainability hub and its Life Cycle Assessment, which is now in progress.
- A second book in the series entitled “Sustainable Concrete Guide – Applications Report” was recently released and is now available in the NPCA Bookstore (www.precast.org). NPCA and other CJSI members contributed the content and funding for the publications to communicate the sustainable benefits of concrete.
Ultimately, this newly founded initiative will give our industry a unified voice to emphasize that concrete is a sustainable product. NPCA will continue to be a part of this collaborative effort to market and educate the public about the positive attributes of precast concrete.