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Concrete industry unites to spread sustainability message

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BY SHANNON MONEO - A comprehensive collection of groups have formed the Concrete Council of Canada (CCC), a 14-member bloc that intends to educate the public about the concrete advantage.

 

“Our mission is to communicate concrete’s social, environmental and economic value. We have a lot of success stories to tell, individually and as a group,” said Robert Burak, chairman of the CCC and also president of the Canadian Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute.

“It’s long overdue.”

With headquarters in Ottawa, the CCC has 14 board members, who come from the pre-cast, pipe, pavement, ready-mix and cement industries.

There are also board members, who hail from stakeholder groups, such as engineering, architecture and general contracting.

Every provincial concrete organization is also a member.

Laura Reschke, executive director of the Alberta Ready-Mixed Concrete Association (ARMCA), said the CCC brings together experts and the coalition of industry forces is something that should have been done sooner.

“The cement and concrete industries have worked together for many years. The CCC formalizes what we’ve been doing all along,” said Reschke, a CCC board member, who represents the Western Canada ready-mix associations.

One key message from the fledgling group will be ensuring that all sectors, from government to the public, understand the benefits of concrete and that concrete products are adapting to fit in a sustainable, green future, said Reschke, who’s been with the ARMCA for 3.5 years.

“With all of the sustainability challenges we face now, it’s important that infrastructure demands are based on longevity and safety,” she said.

Concrete can meet those demands.

“Concrete has been around since the beginning of time. We are confident that people would choose it, although many are not aware of all that concrete can do,” she said.

As Reschke pointed out, the rebuilding that will be required in the flooded areas of southern Alberta will present an opportunity for concrete to shine.

Others agree.

“A lot of people don’t maybe understand how sustainable concrete is,” Burak noted.

“We recognize we have a strong voice as a sustainable industry.”

Both Reschke and Burak said creation of the CCC wasn’t in response to the growing popularity of wood building products, now being used to construct multi-storey structures.

The push for highrise wood construction has been strongly led by the Canadian Wood Council.

“I wouldn’t say the Wood Council prompted it. It may have emphasized the need to get organized,” said Burak, who is also a civil engineer.

Still, the birth of the CCC happened more quickly than Reschke expected.

However, it appears long-standing relationships were waiting to be solidified.

Many of the 14 member organizations have been meeting on an ad hoc basis over the last two decades.

Formalizing the relationship should bring benefits, Burak said.

As a new organization, there are plenty of housekeeping matters to finalize.

Items requiring attention include adding one more board member from the stakeholder section (Burak suspects an insurance industry representative), approval of a strategic plan and communication policy, and development of an economic assessment model.

Members haven’t had to pay dues, but Burak said the CCC will need to find ways to support itself.

It’s expected that members will contribute funds as they see fit, depending on which projects the CCC is undertaking.

As yet, no lobbying efforts or special programs are in the works other than a vision that the CCC will present a common voice about the sustainable, strong, versatile capabilities of concrete, Burak said.

Attendance at trade shows and capturing media attention will be areas where the CCC will direct efforts.

The Concrete Council of Canada intends to hold board meetings at least twice a year.

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by Shannon Moneo last update:Sep 2, 2014

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