Chapter Project Awards Guide
ACI Chapters interested in launching their own local concrete project award program can use this guide as a template.
A local Chapter project award program should be designed to recognize design excellence and quality concrete construction. It should showcase innovation and emerging trends by awarding projects that overcome challenges and improve on existing construction technology. An award program can also benefit a chapter by increasing the chapter’s exposure and status within the concrete community. It can help build new ties with other allied organizations and drive membership.
The Chapter Board should appoint an Award Committee and Chair to oversee the planning and execution of the program. The committee should include a mix of representatives from the concrete industry. To improve continuity, many of the more successful programs select an individual who has expressed a strong interest in the program to chair the committee for multiple years. The committee should be comprised of a sufficient number of individuals who are enthusiastic about contributing their time to the organization and execution of the program.
The Chapter may want to consider partnering with other local organizations such as the Structural Engineers Association (SEA), the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), the American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC), the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI), or the local Ready Mixed Concrete Association. If another local organization already has an established program, or if previous efforts to establish a program have failed due to lack of participation, it may be more practical to combine efforts.
If a joint program is not the Chapter’s goal, developing a relationship with allied organizations can still be advantageous. Allied organizations are an excellent resource for soliciting entries and promoting the event within their membership. If conducting an awards program in a region where another organization already has an existing program, make sure that the date of Chapter’s award program does not conflict.
A well-planned program may take 6 to 8 months to put together. Once it is established and becomes more of a tradition, the time involved tends to be reduced. Chapters are encouraged to take into consideration the submittal deadline for the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards when setting their own timeline.
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Like all chapter programs, a budget should be prepared, including realistic estimates of income and expenses. The budget should be established with the scope of the awards event in mind. In addition to venue and meal costs, the type and number of awards to be presented, production fees, and marketing costs are among the items to consider. Income can be generated by charging a project submittal fee and a registration fee for the event.
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Sponsorships can help subsidize the cost of your program and give recognition to local companies for their support. Provide a variety of support levels so that sponsorship will appeal to both large and small companies. Offer benefits to the sponsors that may include: logos prominently displayed in programs, signage, and awards presentation; complimentary admission; and verbal recognition during the ceremony.
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What is awarded and to whom is at the discretion of the awards committee and highly dependent on the budget. As the award program becomes more established, the type and number of awards presented can change. In general, the more contributors to the project that are recognized, the larger the event will become. However, the number of awards conferred may have a negative effect on attendance if the program runs too long (60-90 minutes is suggested as a maximum amount of time for the awards ceremony). Possible award recipients could include: architect, engineer, general contractor, concrete contractor, concrete supplier, and owner.
The type of award varies across chapters. Some Chapters award certificates or plaques, while others create their own custom awards in concrete. The primary award is sometimes given to only one member of the project team, and made available for purchase to other project contributors.
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Choose a presentation option that works best for your Chapter. While most Chapters choose an evening event with a dinner or reception, other options might include a luncheon program or as the theme of a regular monthly meeting. The type of awards program chosen will help determine the formality of the event, such as black tie, semi-formal, or business casual.
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Choosing what style of event you want to have will also help determine where you hold your event. While hotel ballrooms are the most common venue, don’t overlook other options including golf course clubhouses, restaurants with large banquet rooms, local banquet venues, or unique historical sites in your area.
The award committee selects a judging panel consisting of a variety of representatives from the construction industry. Possible judges may include a concrete contractor, concrete supplier, architect civil engineer, structural engineer, or general contractor. These can come from the Chapter membership, but other allied organizations can be a good resource for finding prospective judges. An odd number of judges (three or five works well) is advantageous in eliminating potential ties. Also, limiting the number of judges can help expedite the process. Judges that are involved in a submitted project may wish to recuse themselves from any discussion of that particular job.
Some chapters give one award per year for the best concrete projects, while others give awards for different types or size of projects. The Awards Committee should select those categories that seem to be of the greatest interest in the local area. Some examples of award categories include:
- Architectural Concrete
- Art in Concrete
- Commercial/Industrial Building
- Decorative Concrete Flatwork
- Green/Environmental use of Concrete
- Innovation in Concrete
- Parking Structures
- Structural Concrete
- Projects under XX million dollars
- Projects over XX million dollars
The award committee can reserve the right to present special merit awards that are outside the definition of the chosen categories. This may include an overall winner, special recognition of a project that involves a human interest story, or a project that is so colossal in scope that it overshadows the other entries. Ultimately, the goal of an awards program is to recognize people constructing exceptional concrete in the local area, so more award opportunities will lead to increased participation.
When choosing categories for a local award program, it may be beneficial to consider how winners in these categories would fit into the categories of the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction awards program:
- Low-Rise Buildings
- High-Rise Buildings
- Decorative Concrete
- Repair and Restoration
The entry form should clearly define the rules of eligibility, the submittal process, project categories, judging criteria, and an area to enter project information. While historically, the entry form has been a paper document, some chapters are migrating to electronic media. Information about the awards presentation event, date, and location should also appear on the entry form.
Provide the guidelines that a project must meet to be submitted for consideration. Does the project have to be located in a specific geographical area, completed within a certain time period, or submitted by a specific person on the project? Does the project have to be new construction or can it be a repair or restoration? If any entry does not meet eligibility requirements clearly stated on the submittal form, the awards committee should not consider the project.
Clearly define how and what materials need to be submitted in order for a project to be considered for the awards program; items such as the entry form, pictures, project narrative, project fact sheet, concrete description, technical data sheet, or any other information that the committee believes is important when evaluating projects. Bear in mind that the content of the items required in the submittal process will assist in the creation of the content for the awards program. Provide the deadline date for materials to be received and to whom they should be sent. If the Chapter chooses to require an entry fee, this should be clearly stated.
Project categories should be listed on the entry form and contain a brief description.
While most Award Committees ask the project submitter to select a project category, some choose to have it assigned by the award committee. In either case, most Chapters reserve the right to reassign a project to a different category if the committee or judging panel feels that it would be beneficial. This possibility, as well as the possibility of a special merit award, should be communicated on the entry form.
The Award Committee should provide a brief description of the judging panel and state the criteria to which the projects will be judged. Some common criteria include:
- Innovative construction techniques or solutions
- Engineering merit
- Environmental or sustainability distinction
- Architectural merit
The committee may also want to review and incorporate the criterion that is used for the ACI Excellence in Concrete Construction Award.
Provide an area on the form, or as a separate document, a place to collect relevant project information, such as:
- Total project cost
- Volume of concrete
- Total time of construction
- Placement/scheduling challenges
- Project size (dimension, area, span)
- Unique specifications or requirements
- Construction methods (tilt-up, precast, etc.)
The judges will need an accurate and interesting narrative of the project to evaluate if it is unique and worthy of recognition. Encourage the submitter to highlight how concrete was effectively used to meet the requirements of the owner, as well as any unique features or specific types of concrete that were used in a project — such as roller-compacted, self-consolidating, or shotcrete. It may be prudent to limit the total number of words to help expedite the judging process.
At a minimum, the entry form should include the project name and address; names and contact information for all the contributors on the project that the chapter chooses to recognize — such as Owner, Architect, Engineer, General Contractor, and Concrete Supplier; date of project completion; and contact information of the person submitting the entry.
The entry form should clearly state how many pictures should be submitted, in what format, and include a photographer’s release form. The Awards Committee should ensure that enough photos of the project are submitted to use in the program and for the judges to have the best opportunity to “see” the project. Approximately eight to 12 photographs are recommended and should include the construction process, finished project, and highlight significant concrete elements. Suggested file formats include .jpeg, .jpg, .tif, and .png. Consideration should be given to limiting the file size or resolution of pictures. Time-lapse photography and/or drone video could also be considered as part of a digital image package. With the onset of electronic file sharing, some committees are using DropBox, Google Drive, or other such services for the submission of digital media. It should be clearly stated that the materials submitted become the property of the Chapter, and that the submitter should obtain all permissions and releases necessary prior to submitting the project.
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Once the entries have been received and reviewed, the judging panel will convene to make their final determination. The time necessary for the judging depends on the number of categories and entries received. Choose a location convenient for all judges, and one where there will be little or no interruption. To assist the judges, compile all entries for each category. Emphasize to the judges the criteria so that they are aware of what they should base their judgment on. If a point system is used, explain the system to the judges so that they clearly understand the process.
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Notification to the Winners
There are two options available when choosing how to notify the winners.
- After the judging is complete, all winners should be notified that they have won and when they will receive their award; or
- Instead of advising the winners, keep the winners a secret, then invite all entrants and announce the winner at the awards banquet. Some chapters prefer this approach as they feel it builds interest in the program and increases attendance at the awards banquet, as all who have entered will potentially send representatives.
Notification to Non-Winners
If winners are announced before the awards presentation, each organization which has taken the time to submit an entry should be notified that they were not the winner of the award and also thanked for taking the time and effort to submit their entry. These organizations should also be invited to the awards presentation and acknowledged during the program.
Promote the event like you would any other chapter meeting, using the chapter website, social media, and email. Send notices to allied industry associations and trade magazines.
Send press releases to local newspapers and trade magazines. Submit an article about the results of the awards programs to Managing Editor of Concrete International. Be sure to provide photographs with the appropriate names, give descriptions of the winning projects, and credit all firms involved. This information will be published in Concrete International, providing additional promotion to the winners and your local chapter.