Release of Draft Aggregate Standards Draws Broad Spectrum of Support
TORONTO, June 7, 2011 /CNW/ - The Canada Green Building Council, the Mayor of Oakville, and Mattamy
Development Corporation are just three of many eminent groups speaking out in support of the Draft SERA Standards that were released last week.
On June 1, 2011 the Draft SERA Standards were launched as a starting point in developing a
world-class voluntary environmental and social certification system for
Ontario's aggregate industry. While the draft standards may have
initially arisen out of negotiations between Holcim Inc. and
Environmental Defence, according to Michael Fenn, SERA's Interim Chair,
"It is SERA's responsibility now to carry the standards forward. Our
number one job is to ensure that a broader group of industry,
community, environmental and First Nations interests have a say in
fleshing them out and finalizing them".
In addition to engaging key stakeholders in finalizing the standards,
SERA will also be soliciting input on the design of an independent
auditing system that will be used to assess compliance against the
standards. According to Lorne Johnson, the new Executive Director of
SERA, "Having tough but achievable standards is only half the battle
for us. To be truly credible, SERA is going to need a rigorous and
independent auditing system with audit teams that are fully arms-length
from the aggregate operations they are assessing".
Yesterday BRE Global, an independent and impartial, research-based
consultancy, testing and training organization announced its agreement
with SERA to support the ongoing development of a Canadian responsible
sourcing standard for aggregates. Support for the SERA certification
system continues today from industry and environmental leaders across
What others are saying about SERA:
Gary Gregoris, Senior VP, Mattamy Development Corporation
"Mattamy Homes supports construction industry initiatives that
contribute to a more sustainable future and healthier planet. The
collaborative effort between Environmental Defence and Holcim Canada to
create standards for responsibly sourced aggregate shows leadership
within the industry in addressing environmental impacts. We support the
direction of the initiative and look forward to working with SERA
Silvio DeGasperis, TACC Construction Ltd.
It is great to see the industry come together with environmental NGOs
and other stakeholders to put something concrete in place. These
standards are finally breaking the status quo and pushing the industry
to look at the way we do business and make sure it is sustainable for
Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
"Over the years my annual reports have emphasized that Ontario's process
to approve and regulate aggregate operations needs improvement. With
the formation of SERA and the Draft SERA Standards I am encouraged to
see traditional adversaries working together to develop an
independently auditable certification system that has the power to
change the way we think about aggregates."
Rob Burton, Mayor, Oakville
"Oakville has been pleased to be recognized for its environmental
leadership in natural heritage protection and progressive land use
planning. SERA could play a significant role in reducing the
ecological footprint of the aggregate industry and making Oakville a
green building centre."
Linda Jeffrey, MPP and Minister of Natural Resources
"It is a positive step forward for Ontarians when the business community
and environmental organizations come together to work towards a common
solution. The efforts by Holcim Canada and Environmental Defence
clearly underscore the importance, for the balance between economic
prosperity and long term sustainability of our environment and natural
resources. Your initiative will be a nice complement to the rigorous
regulatory framework under the Aggregate Resources Act which is
administered by my Ministry."
Peter Tabuns, MPP and Ontario NDP Environment Critic
"The aggregate debate is like the other environmental debates and
conflicts that our society deals with. Bringing together historic
adversaries to find a solution makes sense. SERA sets the stage for
finding that solution in the aggregate debate and I hope it is
Steve Parish, Mayor, Ajax
"SERA is a real step forward for the aggregate debate in Ontario. Any
time traditional adversaries come together and try to cooperate on a
world-class solution, this has to be good news. And those who purchase
aggregate will be the beneficiary of the SERA effort in that they will
have access to a greener, independently certified, product."
Michael McSweeney, President, Cement Association of Canada
"While a reliable long-term supply of aggregates is essential to the
country's infrastructure and the cement and concrete industry's
viability, the protection of the environment and quality of life for
our communities is also of paramount importance. SERA and its standards
will provide our industry with a roadmap for meeting or exceeding
world-class social and environmental management practice and, as the
standards become broadly adopted, provide the public with tangible
assurance that we are doing so. We commend our member Holcim Canada,
Environmental Defence, and SERA's other founding board members for
their leadership in taking this momentous step forward."
Janet Sumner, Executive Director, CPAWS-Wildlands League
"It's all about choice and how to chart a good environmental outcome.
Third-party verified environmental and social standards have
historically been very successful in offering the private sector and
civil society a market-based alternative to navigate controversial
resource development questions. SERA's launch of the draft aggregate
standards last week is a great first start. We wish SERA the best of
luck as it now engages a broader group of interests in helping ensure
the standards deliver workable solutions for all stakeholders."
Neill Lanz, Vice President, Clearview Community Coalition
"Having just been through a extensive Ontario Municipal Board hearing,
at great expense for both our community group and the proponent, I'm
thrilled to see the Draft standards. If the standards translate into
even one community group and one proponent avoiding what we just went
through, then that is already a big win for everyone."
Stewart Hardacre, President and CEO, Habitat for Humanity Canada
Habitat for Humanity Canada has a philosophy of transforming communities
through leadership and collaboration and the new SERA standards embody
a similar approach. We are trying to build communities as sustainably
as possible, and working with partners like Holcim Canada that are
sourcing materials in an environmentally responsible manner is
important to us and the communities we build.
Dr. Jacqueline Glass, APRES Responsible Sourcing Network Manager,
Loughborough University -
"Being able to reassure customers that the materials they have chosen
have been sourced responsibly is a benchmark for any business that
wants its sustainability credentials to be taken seriously. This new
collaboration, Socially and Environmentally Responsible Aggregates
(SERA), between Holcim and Environmental Defence marks a watershed and
will undoubtedly propel many organisations in Canada to take stock of
their environmental and social practices. By introducing a new standard
on responsible sourcing of aggregates, this initiative will raise
awareness of sustainability, but will also transform how companies in
this sector engage with their communities. This approach brings fresh
thinking and hope for a positive future."
Thomas Esakin, Executive Director, Canadian Institute for Environmental
Law and Policy
"SERA is a welcome advancement for the responsible sourcing of aggregate
materials. In March 2011 CIELAP released a report titled Aggregate Extraction in Ontario: A Strategy for the Future that called for change and improvements on a range of aggregate issues.
We are encouraged that the draft SERA standards directly tackle a
number of these important issues"
Harvey Jones, President, Grey Matters
"Grey Matters is thrilled by the announcement of the SERA standards. The
siting of pits and quarries in Ontario has been one of the largest
issue of concern for citizens across the Province for years. Clearly, a
more thoughtful approach to resource management is needed. Bravo to
Environmental Defence and Holcim for bringing both sides to the table
and for creating such a progressive and thoughtful initiative."
Paul Ostrander, President and CEO, Holcim Canada
"Aggregate is an important resource that is vital for building the
country's infrastructure. SERA will help the aggregate industry to meet
the demand for aggregates while meeting community needs and
demonstrating measurable efforts to address the social and
environmental impacts of pits and quarries."
Graham Flint, Chairman, Friends of Rural Communities and the Environment
"This is a pleasant surprise! Enhanced evaluation of aggregate sites and
operations, as well as moving beyond minimum regulatory compliance are
important principles and directions. We look forward to examining the
details in the draft SERA standard and to understanding the stakeholder
consultation process for involvement and improvement. At first glance
though, there seem to be some good elements. The authors are to be
congratulated for launching this initiative."
Thomas Mueller, President and CEO, Canada Green Building Council
"We hope that the SERA certification system and management standard will
change the way the cement industry sources construction materials
across Canada. Adoption of this system will help protect our natural
environment from the impacts of resource extraction and involve local
communities in the development of long-term management plans."
Derek Hughes, Responsible Sourcing Scheme Manager, BRE Global
"A clear and far-sighted initiative such as SERA demonstrates that
Canada, through the activities of Holcim (Canada) Inc. and
Environmental Defence, intends to be at the forefront of activities to
develop an exciting new sustainability tool bringing significant
benefits to a wide range of stakeholders within both industry and
Rodney Wilts, Partner, BuildGreen Solutions
"Following an exhaustive online review BuildGreen Solutions is confident
to say that we could find nothing that came close to rivaling the draft
SERA standards in terms of rigour or comprehensiveness related to
Penny Richardson, President, The Coalition of Concerned Citizens of
"The Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Caledon welcomes the improved
industry standards that SERA proposes. This is a real step forward in
encouraging long-term planning in the aggregates sector. We are
looking forward to exchanging ideas with the SERA Founding Board to
ensure that the needs of our community are met."
Jamie Kirkpatrick, Campaigner, Toronto Environmental Alliance
"Toronto Environmental Alliance sees the Draft SERA Standards as a big
step forward in the protection of the GTA countryside. TEA, through
our Dig Conservation, Not Holes campaign, has been looking for innovative approaches of this nature and
we commend Environmental Defence and Holcim for this new approach."
Peter Kendall, Executive Director, Schad Foundation
"The Schad Foundation has a history of supporting projects that protect
and restore our natural environment. We are proud to support
innovative projects like SERA which will significantly protect and
restore wildlife habitat in our most vulnerable areas."
Maia Becker, Vice President, Forest Stewardship Council Canada
"The development of a world-class SERA standard and certification system
will provide builders with the tools they need to select
environmentally and socially responsible construction materials."
Timothy Gray, Program Director, Ivey Foundation
"The no-go and net-gain approaches proposed by SERA are a huge step
forward for both the aggregate industry and other developments in
About SERA (www.seracanada.ca)
Socially and Environmentally Responsible Aggregates (SERA) is a
not-for-profit organization that aims to create, administer and promote
widespread support for certification of responsibly sourced
construction materials. Its initial focus is on establishing a
voluntary certification system to promote responsibly sourced aggregate
materials in Ontario, offering operators an innovative way to
demonstrate their efforts to recognize the social and environmental
expectations of the local community.
SOURCE SERA Canada
For further information:
Nicholas Schulz, Director of Communications. Tel: 647-883-2719