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Focus on sustainability

WELCOME to the 2002 NCE Concrete in the Environment supplement, supported by the British Cement Association, British Precast Concrete Federation and its product associations, the Reinforced Concrete Council, Construct, the Concrete Bridge Development Group and the UK Quality Ash Association. As we move through this first decade of the new millennium, it is clear that we need to communicate more robustly than ever the many benefits of concrete including its contribution to sustainable construction. This is the prime aim of the supplement.

We know that constructing in concrete has much to offer the designer, constructor and client. These benefits, of course, include fire resistance, construction performance and quality, and the unique option of either insitu or precast construction - or both. But, increasingly, it is the sustainability and environmental performance of concrete construction that is attracting attention.

The global cement industry initiative to improve its environmental performance under the auspices of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the cement and concrete sector strategy for sustainable development here in the UK, highlight the continuous improvement under way.

The significant improvement to building and structure performance through concrete's fabric energy storage, its durability and acoustic performance testify to ongoing progress. At the factory end, the BPCF Environmental Award scheme promoting waste minimisation has been both successful and influential.

Traditional benefits are still important, however.

Concrete is inherently fireproof and offers the designer an assured means of meeting the fire requirements of the Building Regulations without any additional and costly fire protection.

The improvements in construction speed and quality standards include the use of panellised masonry, modular precast and streamlined and innovative concrete construction techniques - from building elements, through motorway structures to whole buildings.

Concrete quality is still improving through, for example, the new SpeCC scheme, the Construct Award for Innovation and Best Practice, the Interpave paving award and the British Precast Award for Excellence.

And when a project is at the planning stage, concrete's ability to be delivered as a factorymanufactured product, as well as a site-mixed or ready-mixed material, gives ultimate flexibility to the designer and constructor.

Looking at other developments, a new Concrete Society/BCA joint venture, Concrete Information Limited, designed to help facilitate access to information on all aspects of concrete construction, started in May and is already having a positive impact on the provision of information to the industry. (See page 14 for an exciting new development, that will further promote the benefits of concrete construction).

There is no doubt that the construction industry, as a whole, is responding to the environmental and Accelerating Change agendas. These calls for a renewed focus from the supply side in supporting the client in his leadership role and therefore requires all designers to rethink the benefits of concrete. These are comprehensively discussed in this special NCE supplement.

Mike Gilbert, British Cement Association; Martin Clarke, British Precast Concrete Federation; Colin Cleverly, Construct and Concrete Bridge Development Group; Martin Southcott, Reinforced Concrete Council; and Lindon Sear, UK Quality Ash Association.

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