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Now in its 21st year, the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association Environmental Excellence Awards program offers members national recognition for sound operating practices and outstanding contributions to protecting the environment. It salutes companies that have not only met, but surpassed governmental compliance requirements and demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence through plant and staff investment.

Entries for this year’s competition were reviewed by a panel of judges based on electronic image galleries and a written narrative covering 10 evaluation criteria: site aesthetics, environmental documentation, training, water management, air quality management, return concrete plan, community relations, concrete delivery and plant sustainability practices. The 2016 program awards NRMCA producers in Eastern, Central and Western U.S. regions.

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Cemex Galveston Plant
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Lafarge Genessee Street Plant
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Central Concrete REDWOOD CITY Plant

“The NRMCA Environmental Excellence Awards Program has been completely revised for 2016. Rules changes have made it easier for plants to enter, making the competition even tougher. These plants have demonstrated that they are the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to being good stewards of the environment,” says NRMCA Senior Vice President of Operations and Compliance Gary Mullings.

“This is another example of the ready mixed concrete industry’s move to environmental excellence,” adds NRMCA President Robert Garbini. “These winning entries clearly demonstrate the incorporation of environmental management systems into plant operations.”

Producers named in the Environmental Excellence Awards program were recognized earlier this fall during NRMCA’s ConcreteWorks meeting in Nashville. As a program co-sponsor, Concrete Products joins the association in a salute to the 10 plants honored this year.

 

EASTERN REGION FIRST PLACE

AGGREGATE INDUSTRIES – NORTHEAST REGION, INC.

EVERETT READY-MIX CONCRETE FACILITY • EVERETT, MASSACHUSETTS

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Community relations activities at the Everett plant this year have included hosting of a plant tour for Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering students.
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The lightweight aggregate stockpile area was configured to contain runoff and prevent comingling with stormwater from paved areas.
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Located on a two-acre parcel intersected by Ciment Quebec property, the Everett plant is the busiest in the Aggregate Industries – Northeast Region, but has the smallest footprint. Staff has had to maximize use of very limited space while controlling environmental, noise and traffic impacts in a mixed-use, urban area just north of Boston. Management reports there have been no complaints regarding noise, dust, traffic or general aesthetics from the local community since ready mixed production began in 1998.

The ISO 14001-certified plant operates under a site-specific Environmental Management System organized and managed through Envoy, a computer-based program easily accessible to team members who perform weekly inspections and are responsible for submitting and tracking progress of corrective action plans. Corporate compliance staff audit inspection records and maintenance logs annually.

New hires receive environmental training geared to ready mixed concrete operations on their first day of orientation. Initial training focuses on topics such as washout water management, spill containment and cleanup, plus emergency response. During annual environmental refresher training, these topics are covered again along with site-specific best management practices and regulatory requirements. Environmental awareness and compliance are factors in individual employee performance evaluations.

A closed-loop system eliminates Everett plant process water discharge to the storm sewer. Process water generated from truck washes is contained on-site in concrete-lined washout basins and reused for washing trucks or, if product specifications allow, recirculated back into the production process. If washout basins are at capacity, water is trucked to a wastewater treatment facility for proper disposal. Runoff from stockpiles and paved areas is also contained by berms and surface grading that directs flow toward unpaved areas or to sumps that can be pumped back to the plant.

No concrete materials are disposed of as solid waste. Returned concrete is “ribboned” out on a concrete pad located within a partially walled storage area next to the washout basins and allowed to dry. Due to property restrictions, the hardened concrete is trucked to sister facilities for crushing into a recycled concrete product sold as fill. This same process is used to recycle concrete slurry.

Environmental management improvements over the past year have been focused on energy conservation and sustainability through implementation of a major capital project to replace oil with natural gas as a primary fuel. This conversion will have a substantial impact on the plant’s carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions while reducing potential impacts associated with petroleum storage and spills.

 

EASTERN REGION SECOND PLACE

CENTRE CONCRETE COMPANY

STATE COLLEGE PLANT • STATE COLLEGE, PENNSYLVANIA

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Centre Concrete placed decorative blocks for an aesthetically pleasing barrier between facility and nearby residential properties.
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Centre Concrete is mindful of its neighbors, a few of whom are part of the State College plant team. The producer recycled concrete mixes to cast block for a property wall installed—along with fencing, secondary gate and muster area—to provide access for those employees who live nearby to walk or bike to work. Additional vegetation was added for aesthetic reasons and to augment abatement of noise and fugitive dust.

An Environmental Management System informs employees of recycling opportunities throughout the operation; they now apply that insight to the handling and transfer of truck oil, antifreeze and engine filters, plus wooden pallets and miscellaneous steel and cardboard. Centre Concrete management took to heart another investment employees pegged from EMS-rooted training: LED lighting installations. Additional reduction of the plant’s carbon footprint is realized in the use of natural gas-fired heaters.

Centre Concrete has transformed a State College plant waste area into a green space using evergreens and grass, which curtail stormwater run-off and prevent sediment deposits in an adjacent stream. Among other recent stormwater management measures, the producer has sloped impervious surfaces to settling ponds, deployed a reclaimer to supply truck washout water, and built a final settling area before site flows discharge to the stream.

 

EASTERN REGION THIRD PLACE

LAFARGE NORTH AMERICA

GENESEE STREET READY MIX • LANCASTER, NEW YORK

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Genesee Street plant staff open the site on “Touch a Truck” day, educating the public on Lafarge and its commitment to safety, the environment, plus good neighbor and community partner practices.
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Demonstration of a strong commitment to the local community and environment is evident on both sides of the plant gate at Genesee Street and sister ready mixed concrete operations across the Lafarge North America enterprise. As trucks are on the road and the way the public most often sees the company, the fleet is kept in top condition, clean and painted.

An ISO 14001-compliant Environmental Management System covers procedures specific to the Genesee Street site, while permits spell out legal requirements for the concrete operation. Among key procedures and policies at the concrete operation are Equipment Fueling, Stormwater Management and Control, Spill Prevention and Cleanup, PPE requirements, Environmental Policy, Air Emissions Control and Waste Management.

Management considers the western New York site as a whole and works to implement best practices whenever possible. The operation releases no water from the site, reuses waste solids in block making, and eliminates or minimizes dust emissions at all times. The Genesee Street Ready Mix plant is wholly committed to being a long-term sustainable operation.

 

CENTRAL REGION FIRST PLACE

CEMSTONE CONCRETE MATERIALS

MANKATO PLANT • MANKATO, MINNESOTA

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The Mankato plant holds outreach events for local contractors and the public. Knowledge is Power courses provide certifications, spotlight concrete innovations, and offer perspective on Cemstone safety and environmental programs.
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Batch operators track best management practices in an environmental folder containing SWPPP, SPCC plan, spill response procedure, employee training, plus stormwater and process water sampling records. Plant staff also track fresh and recycled water usage.
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The Mankato plant sits at the end of the public road, green space encompassing its fully paved yard. A precast concrete plant and shop buildings screen much of the ready mixed operation’s material handling and fleet activity.

Cemstone management demonstrates commitment to environmental excellence by continuously pursuing plant impact reduction. At the Mankato plant that has most recently entailed construction of a weir enabling the use of clarified water for batching. The weir is equipped for daily hydrometer testing to ensure suitability of water for new concrete orders. Measurements into mid-2016 indicated the plant is using 13 percent clarified water, toward a goal of 25 percent; at that level, the Mankato plant would save 175,000 gallons of fresh water annually.

Process water management begins at the weir system. It causes solids to settle out and yields water for truck washout and select batching. Stormwater is directed either to a pond behind the weir or a settling tank, which captures solids and provides water to recharge a wetland area. All silos and mixing areas have dust control equipment, and the entire site is paved to minimize dusting from vehicle traffic. All stockpiles are maintained in concrete bunker block to minimize erosion; watering of stockpile lowers the potential for fugitive dust.

 

CENTRAL REGION SECOND PLACE

CEMEX CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS HOUSTON, LLC

GALVESTON READY MIX PLANT • GALVESTON, TEXAS

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Plant employees have designated two outdoors areas for picnic tables and native landscaping, plus a garden harboring peppers, tomatoes and limes—for consumption at work or home. In the batch office, an Employee Environmental Center presents compliance reference materials and promotes awareness of best or mandatory plant operations practices.
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Best management practices secure a weir system to manage process water with minimized storm water; 60,000-gal. storage basin to manage and recycle clarified process water to minimize fresh water consumption; written standard procedures on maintenance of weir; filters and flocculant gel logs installed in weir cuts to help clarify water; and, concrete contour paving maintained for the batch plant and slump stands to segregate and direct process water flows. Contour paving also directs storm water to the permitted discharge outfall.
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Excellent housekeeping, beautification initiatives, best practices and pride underpin this operation, as indicated in employee-planted native landscaping at the entry and throughout the production and fleet area; a 10-ft. concrete screen wall; stockpile placement at the back of the property; and, concrete pavement supporting air and water quality management, and maintained with dustless regenerative air street sweeper.

The Galveston Plant has committed to the Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Challenge for Ready Mix Plants to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent in five years; 12 sister operations in Texas have already met the industry challenge in 2015-16. The Galveston Plant won the Texas Aggregates & Concrete Association 2016 Public Appearance Award, recognizing positive image and community stewardship through employee participation in parades, festivals and other Houston area initiatives.

A site-specific Environmental Management System maintains current permits, regulatory plans and reporting requirements. The EMS includes an Environmental Center displaying posted permits, permit summaries, written procedures, spill response reporting, jobsite chute wash-off records, site map and other environmental awareness materials. Environmental training is provided to all plant employees at orientation and on regular intervals; briefings and alerts are dispatched as needed to promote environmental awareness and compliance.

Cemex maintains and implements air quality management practices to control, minimize and eliminate particulate and fugitive dust emissions. Cement tankers are monitored during unloading to ensure discharge pressures are below 10 psi and material handling equipment leaks located. Solid waste generation is minimized at Galveston through the use of a) returned concrete into new concrete loads; b) hydration control admixtures for left over concrete in mixer drums; and, c) returned concrete to cast blocks to landscape the plant and separate operating areas. Returned concrete that cannot be used is placed in a holding area ahead of transfer by a recycling company that processes road base material.

 

CENTRAL REGION THIRD PLACE

LATTIMORE MATERIALS CORP.

PLANO READY-MIX PLANT • PLANO, TEXAS

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Plano Ready-Mix attained ISO-14001 certification in May 2015 and has operated under a comprehensive environmental management system since 2011. Central to the EMS is the Envoy environmental documentation system covering Plano and sister Aggregate Industries concrete operations. It includes environmental site procedures, training, inspections, and plans and records.
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Recycled water is channeled from an initial weir system; when level necessitates, clarified water is transferred from this reuse vessel to a natural pond, where pH level is frequently checked.
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Plano Ready-Mix staff is proud to have an aesthetic program that includes site beautification, landscaping, plus well-developed parking, travel and pedestrian areas. The plant has operated in the center of a perpetually growing Dallas suburb for 25-plus years, and is now completely surrounded by commercial development.

As part of Aggregate Industries, Lattimore Materials believes that environmental excellence cannot be achieved without well trained employees. During training, management stresses the importance of compliance with the plant’s Environmental Management System, along with its treatment as an integral aspect of business operations. Each employee receives site-specific training on all activities that may have an impact on the environment.

Plano Ready-Mix water management starts with careful site design and site grading to ensure all process, wash water and storm water are diverted to treatment system basins. Systems include a three-stage concrete weir, followed by a large fenced three-stage reuse tank, and final natural discharge pond. The structures allow the Plano site to both reuse 100 percent of spent water and also harvest rain water, thereby reducing reliance on municipal resources and lowering environmental footprint. Finally, the system design assures that discharge samples comply with permit effluent limits (TSS and pH) in the event of a discharge driven by significant precipitation.

As evidenced by the strong relationship with adjacent landowners, being a good neighbor is a core Lattimore Materials value, as is a fully-developed community relations program. A recent partnership with the Wounded Warrior Foundation has seen the producer donate ready mixed concrete for the foundation and flatwork of a home earmarked for a deserving veteran. In addition, Lattimore Materials also routinely participates in school “Touch-a-Truck” career days, and sponsors food and toy drives throughout the year to assist the local community.

Plant staff conducts multiple activities to increase environmental benefits and sustainability, among them a) use of fly ash to replace up to 30 percent of mixes’ portland cement factors; b) saving fuel and lowering carbon emissions through deployment of GPS-enabled Trimble fleet management technology flagging trucks and vehicles not adhering to the company idling policy; and, c) transfer of leftover concrete and wash-pit slurry to a crushing and recycling operation, where the material is processed and recycled as road base.

 

CENTRAL REGION THIRD PLACE

PETE LIEN & SONS, INC.

TRANSIT MIX STURGIS • STURGIS, SOUTH DAKOTA

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Pete Lien & Sons requires drivers to return excess concrete for recycling using precast block forms, and wash out at the Sturgis plant or jobsite in a contractor-designated containment vessel.
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As part of its community relations agenda, Pete Lien & Sons dispatched iron for a lighter than normal load, ensuring the Duck Race for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital a good start.
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Noise reduction is a Sturgis Plant priority. In addition to the front elevation block wall, stockpiles are placed to help absorb equipment noise; employees use hand-held radios for communication rather than a plant loudspeaker; and, vehicle backup alarms have been replaced to reduce the decibels and sound direction.

A common theme at the Sturgis Plant is ROCK ON! Team members adhere by looking for ways to improve on environmental performance and invest in sustainable development. Recognizing how their plant is nestled along a residential community, plus neighboring businesses, they target an aesthetically pleasing site. Contributing to it are a decorative block wall minimizing views of plant and fleet equipment, plus regular housekeeping of pavement and building facilities. More recently, building and plant structure color schemes have been updated to blend with the environment.

A cross functional team assembled from management, drivers plus staff responsible for sales, purchasing, maintenance, human resources, engineering, environmental compliance and quality control oversees an Environmental Management System at Sturgis. Aspects and Impacts are documented in an annual EMS Review Cycle. In addition, a corporate site inspection program has been implemented with audits at least once a year. Corporate staff documents action items and opportunities for improvement, placing them in a matrix and evaluating for risk potential, training effectiveness, and frequency.

Senior management, supervisors and hourly staff attend daily, weekly or monthly meetings covering a variety of environmental topics—all part of a pursuit of sustainable development and keeping current on ever changing environmental laws, regulations and rules. Regulatory agencies, vendors, subject matter experts, manufacturers, and consultants are typically enlisted to train and provide updates on compliance, production technology and best plant practices.

Training at the Sturgis plant can utilize different methods that include quizzes or interactive demonstrations. After every formal session, employees are presented with a five- to 10-question evaluation or survey form, allowing them to critique training and offer suggestions on content delivery or format. Management finds the method effective in working with a group that is not comfortable speaking or asking questions in a larger setting.

 

WESTERN REGION FIRST PLACE

CENTRAL CONCRETE SUPPLY

MARTINEZ PLANT • MARTINEZ, CALIFORNIA

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The Martinez yard is swept multiple times daily by staff and an outside contractor. Through daily tailgate plus programmed training sessions throughout the year, plant staff and drivers are prepared for operating guidelines and regulations they must abide, including Dust Control, Stormwater Pollution Prevention, Hazardous Materials/Waste Handling, plus Injury and Illness prevention.
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With California in a fifth year of drought, Central Concrete rented 42,000-gal. storage tanks to harvest upwards of 80 percent of Martinez Plant precipitation. The producer used more than 100,000 gallons captured over an eight-month period.

Built in 2008 with the environment in mind, the Martinez plant is Central Concrete’s newest operation. The site includes 1.25 acres of shrubs, seasonal flowers, grass, fruit trees and two bio-filtration systems, each harboring native plants. Engineers used grade changes and drains to separate storm from process water, channeling the former toward one of the bio-filtration systems.

Specially selected plants, along with subsurface soil substrates, equip the systems to filter the water before it is collected underground and discharged offsite through an outfall. Pollutant loading at the outfalls are at such low levels lab technicians often cannot detect them—leading inspectors to applaud Central Concrete on being the first Bay Area ready mixed operator to utilize such runoff treatment design.

An Environmental Management System certified according to the NRMCA Green-Star program helps Martinez Plant supervisors and staff to operate within guidelines of all regulatory agencies. An environmental manager conducts monthly audits and unannounced site inspections to check permit compliance and EMS adherence. Keeping all documents current ensures that whenever the manager or a regulatory agency representative arrives, staff is ready.

To address a goal of zero waste, which is compounded by customers’ tendency to over estimate ready mixed volume requirements, the producer has implemented a Same Day Stabilization program. Aimed at reusing returned mixes, it is part of a company-wide Concrete Waste Cost Reduction Team comprised of plant and sales managers.

 

WESTERN REGION SECOND PLACE

CALPORTLAND CO.

WEST VANCOUVER READY MIX • VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON

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Cement and slag are offloaded concurrently through separate 600-CFM vent filters. An 8,500-CFM baghouse controls emissions from the cement/slag hopper and mixer inlet.
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The West Vancouver plant shows attention to aesthetic and environmental management detail, from the front gate to process water and stormwater collection systems—hands on spill response training; and, block production using returned concrete.

The West Vancouver plant’s most prominent aspect suggests an owner wise to Pacific Northwest vegetation and sensitive to the community. The front elevation and entrance host neatly planted Douglas fir trees, Mahonia or “Oregon Grape,” azalea and rhododendron, while signage is clean and discrete to blend with the surroundings.

Aesthetic treatments are extension of best environmental management and water conservation practices throughout the site. A process water system adjacent to the plant, for example, limits plumbing that draws from high density, settled/clarified and harvested runoff sources. The batch plant control is programmed to blend the waters to meet mix designs of select ready mixed orders, contributing to the full use of all water on site. The site’s stormwater collection system is equipped with an inline pH program connected to an air compressor, ready for activation and valve closure if discharge water is above the allowed threshold.

A Site Water Management Manual contains everything an agency inspector would request, notably Yard/Plant, Shop and Daily Oil Sheen checklists completed by staff and subject to site superintendent approval and corporate environmental department review. CalPortland addresses preventive maintenance inspections, spill response, stormwater and process water sampling, plus emissions observations in routine classroom or hands on training.

The West Vancouver plant is set up to re-batch returned concrete, or feed block production handled by an outside contractor in an area adjacent to a truck wash station, from which acidic solution is conveyed to a sump to temper process water pH.

 

WESTERN REGION THIRD PLACE

CENTRAL CONCRETE SUPPLY

REDWOOD CITY PLANT • REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA

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Smart planning positioned Central Concrete to double output and improve environmental impact metrics at Redwood City. Along with requisite dust collection equipment for the plant, a yard overhaul saw installation of a wind fence to curtail dust from neighboring industrial facilities. Airborne emissions have direct impacts that go beyond air quality, management contends, and reach in to employee health, stormwater quality and general housekeeping.
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Every Central Concrete mixer bears an Enviro-Guard chute rinse system to prevent process water or concrete debris from contaminating jobsites, roadways and trucks’ home plants. The systems have a closed dual diaphragm pump system that attaches to a “bucket” drivers hang on chutes to capture rinse water and concrete residue. Water is pumped back in to the mixer, leaving aggregate and slurry in the bucket.

Now approaching 20 years in operation, the Redwood City plant was upgraded in 2013 with the addition of a second batch plant, baghouses, dust collectors and an 800-ton, eight-bin aggregate storage and handling system. The equipment doubled production capacity; reduced material handling transfer times and dust emissions; and, freed up space for a gray-water system plus stormwater harvesting tanks—the latter deployed during winter months to decrease reliance on municipal sources. Earlier this year, plant staff calculated capture and consumption of 80,000 gallons of water from the tanks.

The Environmental Management System and a commitment to continuous improvements at the Redwood City site adhere to NRMCA Green-Star certification guidelines. Central Concrete management engages employees in the EMS program through routine monthly training sessions on various environmental topics. Driver room posting of the Environmental Policy ensures delivery professionals are trained on appropriate response to plant and jobsite concerns that warrant action.

The Redwood City operation helps to reduce the cost of waste disposal by creating blocks with returned concrete, and also using the mixer truck-mounted Verifi quality management hardware and software suite to reduce returned loads, especially those rejected due to improper slump adjustments. Central’s Concrete Waste Cost Reduction team generated nearly $1.3 million the past year by increasing “dump fees” and another $250,000 through Same Day Stabilization, whereby returned mixes are used in forthcoming orders as specifications and schedules allow.