Holcim establishes Foundation for Sustainable Construction

9 December 2003

Leading global cement producer Holcim is setting up a worldwide prize competition for sustainable construction projects to promote future-proof solutions that meet the differing requirements of economic growth, environmental quality and social responsibility. To provide a framework for this objective, the company has established the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, domiciled in Zurich.

The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction promotes and supports initiatives and projects that identify construction-related solutions to today's pressing technological, ecologic and socio-economic challenges and fuse these solutions with architectural excellence and a high quality of life. A global competition is to be launched with the goal of sensitizing architects, engineers, developers and owners to the concept of sustainable construction and to reward them for outstanding achievements in this area.

"Holcim's commitment to sustainable construction stems directly from the realization that economic growth, the sustainable use of environmental resources and social responsibility are all crucial today to a company's successful long-term existence", emphasizes Holcim CEO Markus Akermann: "With the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction we are lifting the Group's commitment in this area to a new plane and creating a global platform for sustainable construction with which we want to impact beyond the boundaries of the building materials industry."

In partnership with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, and in collaboration with such distinguished institutions as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, the Tongji University in Shanghai, the University of São Paulo, and the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction will be inviting entries for an international competition next year. Driven by Holcim's "Building Foundations for Society's Future" vision, the focus of the first competition cycle will be on ideas, concepts and solutions revolving around the issue of basic needs.

Underlying Holcim's initiative are a desire to intensify the exchange of expertise and innovation between the people "at the front" and the scientific community, to anchor the principle of sustainability more firmly in society's mindset, and to multiply best practices. Young architects and engineers will also be actively involved in the competition to ensure a motivational transfer of knowledge across generations.

Projects will be judged and prizes awarded in two stages: in 2005, entries will be divided over five geographic regions depending on place of origin, and the following year competitors will be assessed at global level. Only award-winning regional entries of model standard representing milestones in the development of sustainable construction will qualify for the subsequent global stage. At both the regional and the global level, projects submitted will be assessed by juries made up of independent specialists working in the international arena towards the sustainable development of society, building processes, construction materials and building projects. Prizes at both levels will total two million US dollars per competition cycle.

Housing and infrastructure are key cornerstones of a society's cultural development and identification and also the basis of progress and prosperity. People's basic need for protection against severe weather and natural disasters, for instance, repeatedly poses new challenges to planners, engineers and architects. One of the aims of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction is to help step up processes geared to achieving a broad raft of sustainably effective forms and construction methods while factoring in esthetic criteria. Built areas should be seen as a society's attempt to lend an enduring form to cultural and artistic values in their respective epochs.

Holcim is a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Holcim is one of the world's leading suppliers of cement, aggregates (gravel and sand), concrete and construction-related services. The Group holds majority and minority interests in more than 70 countries on all continents.

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