Greenwash of Week - Cement Industry

As an architect, I was trained that my first responsibility is to be a good steward of the environment. I believe this should also be the first responsibility of everyone involved in the construction industry.

I feel shocked and saddened, then, when I read a news story like the following:
N.Y. cement factory plans to fight new EPA regulations
A New York-based cement plant, LaFarge, along with other companies, opposes new EPA regulations that require mercury-emissions reductions at cement plants. Portland Cement Association, an industry trade group, says the emissions limits are too low and it will be difficult to meet the requirements. However, environmental groups say that noncompliance will lead to more toxic pollution. Public News Service (11/09/2010)
LaFarge's website proclaims that the company "is convinced that sustained economic growth cannot occur without social progress, environmental protection and respect for local communities." Too bad the marketing and operations departments in the company don't communicate with each other.

PCA's website posits that the cement industry. "is not content to simply have a green end product." This leaves open for interpretation whether "green" is a synonym for the environment or for profit.


I offer a strategy, however, that will solve cement plant pollution without requiring the EPA to place caps on mercury emissions. All we have to do is require the executives of cement manufacturing companies and associations -- and their spouses and children -- to live within a mile downwind of their plants.

Certainly, their tune about the cost/benefit of emissions will change as a result.
For more on this controversy, see my previous post on Cement Emissions and Social Justice.