Does Your Client Understand Sustainability?
Going “green” or being sustainable is an important part of the discussion in design, construction, industrial and the chemical markets we serve. However, we need to step back and make sure when we have these conversations that our target audiences understand what it means to be sustainable. Unfortunately, there are too many definitions of sustainability floating around. Our clients and customers are aware of sustainability but may not be well informed. At a recent PCA Promoter’s Forum, it was estimated by the audience that only 40 – 50 percent of the design community have a good understanding of sustainability, yet since they are the ones writing specs, then at least 80 –90 percent of that group needs to have a really good understanding of what it takes to be sustainable. This shows that the message hasn’t been as thorough or as widespread as it needs to be.
How does the misunderstanding and lack of information occur? People make decisions based on information that has appeared from various sources, such as social media or the media. The danger is that the information is not always verified or accurate. The source of information needs to be fully transparent and the whole life cycle of the product or building system should be evaluated. Concrete, in particular, often gets a bad rap. Yet, when a product’s materials are evaluated from the cradle to the grave – the complete lifecycle – then their true impact on sustainability can be calculated and concrete is a fantastic solution. Further, it’s not accurate to take just one section of its lifespan and determine that a product is or is not sustainable. For example, adopting such a mindset, you might consider wood sustainable and ignore the fact that trees are being cut down. Likewise, you can’t conclude that concrete is not sustainable when concrete structures have such a long life. You’d be hard pressed to find an alternative material possessing the same thermal qualities, design flexibility, storm resistance and durability as concrete.
Concrete needs a stronger and more far-reaching message and many industry organizations are taking a leadership role in this much-needed effort. If those involved in the building industry don’t have a good understanding of the sustainable advantages of using concrete, then we haven’t done a good job of getting the word out. We need an informative, consistent approach so the sustainable values of concrete are apparent to all. Let’s change that by working together to promote concrete as the material of choice for a sustainable solution. Our associations are leading the charge, we need to support and echo their efforts.
AOE also wants to do our part as we believe in supporting the industry we have served for more than two decades. Although sustainability has been a theme for many years for our clients, we have seen a huge increase in our clients needing to better communicate their environmental footprint to their audiences and we have helped them with this messaging using a variety of communication mediums. Our team has made a commitment to not only educating ourselves on the latest facts about concrete and its sustainable attributes, but also offering a variety of services to help you promote your sustainable approach.
To learn more about how you can communicate the correct information about sustainability contact AOE.