AggMan of the Year 2008: David W. Carroll
“The exemplary performance of the aggregate business sector in wildlife habitat conservation, and conservation education, is critical to the national and global efforts in meeting sustainability goals for companies and communities,” says Robert Johnson, WHC president. “David Carroll, a board member of the WHC for almost a decade and past chairman, continuously strives to develop new ideas that will assist the aggregate industry in understanding how they can voluntarily use their properties for major gains in biological diversity, and becoming community active learning centers for conservation…his efforts are touching the lives of thousands to help make a better world.”
On Earth Day 2008, NSSGA and the WHC signed a Memorandum of Understanding that established a framework for the cooperation between the two groups to work with industry to encourage participation in the programs of each organization and to engage and demonstrate voluntary corporate leadership in environmental performance, including enhancement and restoration of wildlife habitat.
“Dave Carroll’s commitment to our industry is evident by his display of environmental leadership and active participation in industry organizations,” says Geoff Boraston, Granite Construction’s director of environmental affairs and vice chair of NSSGA’s Environmental, Safety, and Health Division. “Dave should be proud of his accomplishments including facilitating a partnership between the Wildlife Habitat Council and the National Stone Sand and Gravel Association.”
Expanding the sphere of influence
During recent years, Carroll’s work has extended beyond North America and involved addressing environmental issues on an international scale. Throughout the late ’90s, large European companies began to promote sustainability as a way of differentiating themselves as industry leaders, and once again, Carroll served on point for LNA.
“By definition, the construction materials industry is not sustainable. We dig holes and crush stone to make smaller stone. Ultimately, your reserves disappear,” he says, “but that doesn’t mean you can’t employ sustainable practices that make your business more responsible and environmentally friendly. It doesn’t solve your long-term problem of what happens when the reserves disappear, but it lengthens the time it takes. It makes it more responsible. It makes it more environmentally friendly.”
While sustainability initiatives have been driven from the European business community, they are slowly making their way to the United States. Barriers to acceptance still exist, however, particularly for smaller companies. “We do not see sales distinguished on whether it’s a sustainable company or not. It hasn’t happened. It’s one of those things that, until that happens, you won’t see more of it. It will not get driven down to smaller companies. They won’t do it because it costs money, and they don’t see the return yet,” Carroll says. “It’s the right thing to do, but until it has a greater impact on the financial bottom line or greater negative consequences, you won’t see a lot more people doing it.”
And although the term “carbon footprint” is slowly becoming common lingo in the American vernacular, Carroll says that he believes that CO2 regulations are not likely to develop quickly in the United States. “If they don’t come up with an agreement in Copenhagen next year (at the United Nations Climate Change Conference), it’s going to take a while,” he says, adding that he doesn’t envy the next person to hold the position as administrator of the U.S. EPA. “Whoever is the next administrator is going to be beaten up. They’ll be on Capitol Hill all the time.”
While future environmental requirements may be difficult to predict, Carroll is much clearer on his next priority: pushing for transportation reauthorization. At press time, he said that he anticipated the federal government would pass a second stimulus package that includes infrastructure investment. Once short-term investments are underway, the focus will shift to longer term reauthorization. “We’ve got a long way to go, but if they’re prepared to make the investment, we’ve got a chance,” he says.