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CAC President and CEO Michael McSweeney addresses guests at 2011 Pollution Probe Gala Dinner

Pollution Probe Gala Dinner

November 23, 2011

CAC President and CEO Michael McSweeney - Remarks

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you this evening.

It is with great pleasure that I stand before you on behalf of the Cement Association of Canada as this evening’s platinum sponsor.

I am pleased to be with such distinguished individuals as we pay tribute to the outstanding work Pollution Probe has done, as well as honour our Governor General, David Johnston.

Long before he became Governor General, His Excellency was a leader and a driver of Environmentally Sustainable Development. He is an inspiration to many of us.

His legacy still continues at the University of Waterloo as just last week the new Environment 3 building was unveiled. The landmark building meets LEED Platinum criteria and a whole new approach to sustainability.

Well done Sir, I can think of no one more deserving of this inaugural award than you!

The cement industry has come a long way in the last few years.  Today, I am extremely pleased to say that the industry as a whole is striving to be as environmentally responsible as possible and identifying innovative ways to reduce their environmental footprint.

I am pleased to say that this change in large part is due to the efforts of government, NGOs and ENGOs such as Pollution Probe, and to the relationships we are building in the communities where we operate.

Our Members are strong believers in corporate social responsibility and that businesses must do their part.  But in the case of the environment, corporate social responsibility must be more than just paying lip service to a cause or donating funds to a movement.

If we do not innovate or improve how we manufacture cement, it does not matter how much funds we donate or how many times we say we support the environment.  For true environmental progress to take place, businesses must genuinely alter their outlook and realize a tangible benefit in pursuing green initiatives. Businesses must make environmental sustainability a cornerstone of their corporate ethos.

Clean air.  Clean Water.  These two simple, yet very powerful principles form the foundation of Pollution Probe’s mission.  Without either, none of us can survive and that includes the corporate sector.  It is in our collective interest to protect our environment and find innovative and sustainable ways to do business.

Now more than ever, for businesses to be successful, they must marry a triple bottom line approach of economic, environmental and social sustainability.  Environmental sustainability can no longer be a buzzword that corporations use to look good. Instead it must become a foundational principle.

This transition from an idea to an instrument of success is directly attributable to the influence of organizations like Pollution Probe and leaders like His Excellency David Johnston. These leaders continue to push businesses and government to do more to promote environmental stewardship.  Perhaps more importantly, they work to raise public consciousness about the need for environmental sustainability.

Every business knows that the consumer is king - or queen as the case may be.  And we must listen to the needs of our consumers. Those consumers come in all forms from politicians, government regulators, ENGOs, media and the general public.

Businesses must be pushed to take action. Pushed to see there is good value in pursuing environmental sustainability. And pushed to understand that the bottom line will benefit.  We must be driven to change.

I will give a “concrete” example of this from the cement sector.

The criteria for building materials used in construction has changed.  Through amendments to government policy and the push for environmental sustainability, builders are seeking energy efficient and low carbon, building materials.

As a result, the cement sector reacted, innovated and is in the process of adapting.  I’m proud to say that just recently we launched a new brand of cement called “Contempra.  This new cement produces concrete just as strong and resilient as traditional Portland cement, but with a significantly smaller environmental footprint.

Using Contempra instead of traditional cement will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by an amount equivalent to taking 172,000 cars off Canadian roads, or planting 23 million trees every year.  We are incredibly proud of this.

This is progress, but we did not simply decide to create Contempra out of the blue.  We were encouraged to do so by governments, environmental organizations and consumers.  Changes like these are not always natural, but in the end they are often very necessary.

We chose to be the platinum sponsor of tonight’s event because we believe wholeheartedly in the work that Pollution Probe does every day.  You are truly driving the environmental agenda in a responsible manner by using science to develop solid recommendations to improve environmental performance.

By bringing together business, government and not-for-profit organizations, you foster relationships that drive business to innovate and governments to improve policy to encourage greater environmental awareness and conservation.

Business cannot do this alone.  Governments cannot do this alone.  And by themselves, environmental organizations cannot fully realize their goals.  ??But, through a collective process that allows the free exchange of ideas, grounded in facts and solid science, we can continue our environmental progress toward greater sustainability and responsibility.

Our approach to manufacturing and distribution – from inception to completion of our products – must change to reflect a commitment to real environmental change.  It is how we will continue to remain competitive.    This is our new reality.

We must continue to innovate in order to succeed.  Businesses must embrace science to continue evolving and developing innovative products and manufacturing methods that are sustainable and environmentally conscious.

Through the work of Pollution Probe, environmental sustainability is no longer detrimental to the bottom line of business; it is essential to its well being.

Once again, it is an honour and privilege to be tonight’s platinum sponsor.  Thank you very much for coming and your ongoing dedication to protecting our precious environment.

Dr. Hamdullahpur Introduction

Now I have the pleasure of introducing our next speaker, Dr. Feridun Hamdullahpur.  As the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waterloo, he leads one of our province’s most innovative institutions, producing graduates who have gone on to do amazing things.

His experience in innovation and development is impressive, having been the former Vice President of Research at Carleton University.  As a mechanical engineer, he is a catalyst of innovation and understands the great need for Canadian business to continue to innovate to remain competitive.

Dr. Hamdullahpur has some big shoes to fill.  His predecessor, the new Governor General Dr. David Johnston, set the bar high.  But, I am confident that Feridun is up to the challenge.  Who knows, one day we may see him up on this stage accepting the leader award.

Without further ado, please welcome, Dr. Feridun Hamdullahpur.