Article No: 100

2006-05-02 08:08:14
PCA Customizes Concrete's Sustainability Message
By: Larry Storer


The Portland Cement Association has delivered a briefing kit to its members that is the centerpiece of an educational campaign highlighting concrete's role in support of sustainable development building practices.

Titled "Concrete Thinking for a Sustainable World," the initiative was created to get all members of the industry on the same page when it comes to the environmental effects of cement manufacturing and ongoing improvements.

There is an increasing focus on green building and sustainable development in the construction world. Government agencies, associations and industry groups are putting an increased focus on long-lasting, energy-wise construction.

"We want to arm the industry in its understanding of concrete's durability, energy-efficiency and versatility," said David Shepherd, PCA director of sustainable development. "The initiative will also educate architects, engineers and builders on how to incorporate concrete into sustainable construction projects.

"Concrete has superior long-term benefits, but those benefits are often undervalued. Our industry has a long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship and this initiative builds upon that record."

The kit is divided into four sections: Overview Materials, Media Relations, Community Relations and Government Relations.

Overview Materials

The Overview Materials section includes briefing materials, fact sheets and case studies designed to educate the industry.

Shepherd noted that sustainability principles are now being integrated into residential and commercial projects as clients are more aware of the need for preserving vanishing resources. "It's one of concrete's strongest messages, and one that we need to spread."

Shepherd said the Overview briefing materials are designed for PCA members. One of the briefing papers includes the key messages that industry professionals need to communicate, and each key message is fully developed with factual material.

"It doesn't matter whether a ready mixed manager is speaking to a local civic club or a builder is addressing the local planning and zoning commission or whether an architect is speaking to a reporter about a local project - the message needs to be consistent," he explained.

One of those messages is the sustainability message: The cement industry recognizes the growing importance of sustainable development - building for today and tomorrow without depleting future resources; and concrete is a responsible choice for sustainable development because of its durability, energy efficiency and versatility.

The manufacturing message: The cement manufacturing process is designed to minimize emissions and waste, utilize energy efficiently and ensure product quality; and the cement industry was one of the first industries to tackle climate change by developing policies and improving manufacturing processes that benefit the global environment - since 1975, the cement industry has reduced its energy usage in manufacturing by 33 percent.

The PCA reputation message: PCA and its member companies are proactively engaged and committed to environmental stewardship and sustainable development; and PCA is a reliable and trusted resource for balancing environmental stewardship with community development.

Other parts of the Overview Materials are designed to help market concrete, including frequently asked questions about cement, concrete and sustainability; a fact sheet about concrete and sustainability; facts about cement manufacturing; fact sheets about PCA and its reputation for promoting sustainability; and three case studies.

Also included in the kit is the "Concrete Thinking for a Sustainable World" logo and instructions for its use, high resolution photographs to explain all the processes and to support the case studies, and a CD-ROM so press releases, speeches, fact sheets and other materials don't have to be re-keyed.

Media Relations

Within the Media Relations section are materials that Shepherd said will help members work with the media in a community - newspapers, magazines, radio and television - to inform local residents and businesses about the sustainable development benefits of using concrete.

Press release templates are included that can be customized with local information and distributed to media. Three specific news release templates cover sustainability, manufacturing and reputation. A sample pitch letter is included to help personalize media relations efforts.

Hints on maximizing the materials for the media; and contact information for Ryan Puckett, PCA manager of media relations, who can provide additional information on getting media coverage, are also included.

Community Relations

The Community Relations section provides materials for educating the local community about the sustainable benefits of using concrete. This section relies in part on the materials provided in the Overview Materials section for reaching out to business organizations and business leaders, architects, builders, real estate agents, and residents.

A sample speech is enclosed that presents an opportunity to contact local organizations, address community groups and be positioned as a local resource on the topic of sustainable development. The speech also has a PowerPoint presentation as visual support, and is written to be presented to a broad audience with limited understanding of sustainable development.

The goal of the speech is to educate the audience about the importance of sustainable development and how concrete is a viable solution. If local examples and visuals are available, the PowerPoint speech can be customized as appropriate. The speech template can also be adapted for different audiences. In addition to the materials in the Overview Section, the speech can be printed and used as a handout.

Included also is a letter to request a speaking opportunity. Obvious venues for possible speaking opportunities include the local chamber of commerce, civic and business clubs and tech schools. A thank you letter is also included to be sent after the speaking opportunity.

Once a speaking venue is acquired, there's a press release that can be sent to local media to promote the speaking opportunity. It outlines the content of the speech and can be used as an invitation for the media to attend the speech or it can be used to promote the event after it occurred.

Like the other sections, this one has tips on how to get a speech scheduled, presentation information and how to target the speech to the specific audience.

Government Relations

The Government Relations section includes tools that will help members communicate with local legislators and government officials about sustainable development and the benefits of using concrete.

Included is a template letter to politicians, a sample letter to send to local government representatives. It can be customized to reflect local information, personal examples and specific issues.

Also included are fact sheets to be used when meeting with local government representatives or to be sent with the letter.

They detail the most significant legislative issues that surround concrete and cement as a sustainable building material, as well as the cement industry's position on the issues.

Also included is contact information for Andy O'Hare, the PCA government relations expert, who can provide additional information. Hints for contacting representatives and how to become an information resource for them is included.

The entire kit is contained in a durable, attractive container.