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NRMCA Commitment to Environmental Excellence Awards

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association Commitment to Environmental Excellence Awards program recognizes sound operating practices and outstanding contributions to protecting the environment. Now in its 22nd year, it salutes producer members that have surpassed governmental compliance requirements and demonstrated environmental commitment through plant and staff investment.

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DRM WESTGATE AVENUE
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CEMSTONE UMORE
CalPortland best crop

CALPORTLAND DUWAMISH
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TITAN VIRGINIA LEESBURG
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GCC MID-CONTINENT SPRINGDALE

Entries for this year’s competition were reviewed by a panel of judges based on image galleries and a written narrative covering site aesthetics, environmental documentation, training, air quality and water management, returned concrete plan, community relations, ready mixed delivery, and plant sustainability practices. The NRMCA Operations, Environmental and Safety Committee-administered program awards members in Eastern, Central and Western U.S. regions.

“The Environmental Excellence Awards program has been completely revised. Rule changes make it easier for plants to enter, making the competition even tougher,” says NRMCA Executive Vice President of Operations and Compliance Gary Mullings. “These plants demonstrate that they are the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to being good stewards of the environment.”

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

 NRMCA honored 2017 Commitment to Environmental Excellence Award recipients last month during the ConcreteWorks Conference in Texas. As a program co-sponsor, Concrete Products joins in a salute to the eight plants and their owners.

 

EASTERN REGION FIRST PLACE

AGGREGATE INDUSTRIES – NORTHEAST REGION, INC.

WALTHAM READY-MIX CONCRETE FACILITY • WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS

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The enclosed plant has four silos, each equipped with bin indicators, warning horns, and auto shut-off valves in case of overload. Cement unloading is accompanied by baghouses, while a central dust collector operates during concrete production. The plant manager or batch operator conducts daily air emission checks.
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Stormwater is contained in the sedimentation pond and a companion above ground vessel. An unusually wet spring 2017 saw Waltham RMC deploy a portable storage tank for process water, eliminating the need for offsite disposal. Process water is recycled in equipment wash out and at the lightweight aggregate stockpile, which requires constant moisture.

The facility occupies a parcel nestled between Brandeis University and the MBTA Commuter Rail. Plant trucks and staff share a narrow access roadway with the school’s parking lot. Pedestrians crossing from the university to the rail line add to the challenges Waltham RMC management and drivers face operating in suburban Boston.

Proximity to public areas and residential developments means that the plant must appear in top condition at all times. Aggregate Industries Northeast Region employs a 24-hour hotline service to log community concerns; when a call is received, appropriate safety and/or environmental staff are notified immediately.

Waltham RMC is ISO-14001 certified and operates under a site-specific Environmental Management System organized and managed through Envoy, a computer-based program accessible to all plant personnel. Management is very cognizant of the high public visibility of its ready mixed delivery professionals and their key role in day-to-day pollution prevention. All Aggregate Industries mixer drivers receive initial new hire training along with annual refresher training on jobsite and plant wash out procedures, waste concrete management, and spill response. To ensure vehicles are safe and fully operational, all mixer trucks undergo pre-and post-shift vehicle inspections. Waltham garage team members coordinate routine preventive maintenance, services, and repairs either in-house or by contract vendors.

Process water from fleet and plant functions is contained on-site in a concrete lined washout facility, equipped with a heating system to ensure to year-round recycling in mix production or truck washout. A 10,000-gal. stand-by tank manages excess water during large rain events. Stormwater is discharged from the site under an EPA NPDES Multi-Sector General Permit. The Waltham RMC facility maintains two sedimentation basins to increase settling time prior to discharge. Water stored in the primary sedimentation pond can be pumped into a above ground vessel and reused as needed.

 

EASTERN REGION SECOND PLACE

PREFERRED MATERIALS, INC.

ALICO ROAD PLANT • FORT MYERS, FLORIDA

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The mixer fleet bears Preferred Materials-standardized safety messages and pollution prevention measures, including mixer chute caps. A commitment to environmental stewardship is reflected in promotion of branded pervious concrete and operating practices that make the Alico Road property a draw for wildlife—from ducks and osprey to turtles and alligators.

Through nearly two decades in operation, the plant has a track record free of citations for federal, state, county and local law or ordinance violations, and no citizen complaints. Management and staff adhere to best practices and community relations principles that add up to a good, law-abiding neighbor.

Order at the operation is attributable in part to the 5S housekeeping program, which compels team members to Sort – When in doubt, move it out/red tag technique; Simplify – A place for everything and everything in its place; Sweep – Clean and inspect or inspect through cleaning; Standardize – Make the rules and follow them; and, Self-discipline – Part of daily work and it becomes a habit.

In tandem with 5S, the Alico Road Plant uses Preferred Materials’ Intelex, a web-based Environmental Management System that tracks permit expiration dates; sends out email reminders for monthly inspections and related environmental tasks; and, generates reports on task completion and permit status. The operation is also bound by Preferred Materials’ Environmental Stewardship and Social Responsibility Guidance Document, which becomes part of new manager training and monthly Green Alerts. The latter enlighten staff on spill prevention, storm water management, regulatory inspections, record retention, environmental policy, endangered species awareness, and recycling goals.

The recently launched, quarterly Star Program recognizes employees demonstrating three qualities in their dealings with customers and colleagues:

Good People. Quality, safety, reliability. You can be confident that Preferred will always deliver on that. If there’s ever an issue, we make it right. Period. And if you need something more, we will make it happen with a can-do attitude. Because as our customer, YOU come first.

Smart, Proactive Partners. Beyond the products we sell, we’re your partners who want to help you build your business. Sharing national best practices. Taking the time to listen to you. Bringing our team together to strategize with you on a regular basis.

Community-Minded. Community is family and that’s what gives meaning to our lives. Working together with each other and with customers, our Preferred team shares their time and talent to make the community where we live a better place.

Like sister Preferred Materials site peers, Alico Road employees engage year-round in community relations projects through Green Teams. Projects include cooking dinner for the Ronald McDonald House; beach cleanups; donating clothing and other goods to the homeless through No Strings Attached on Thanksgiving and Christmas; and, participating in food, toy and back to school drives.

 

EASTERN REGION THIRD PLACE

TITAN VIRGINIA READY-MIX LLC

LEESBURG READY-MIX CONCRETE PLANT • LEESBURG, VIRGINIA

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Titan Virginia has adopted carbon dioxide-based pH adjustment for process water in lieu of sulfuric acid dosing. The Leesburg RMC plant’s relatively small footprint necessitates conventional returned-concrete handling methods: winrowing, stockpiling and transfer to a crushing yard for base material production; or, production of interlocking key blocks in recently updated forms.
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A large detention pond separates the Titan Virginia Leesburg ready mixed operation from the Washington and Old Dominion Trail.
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Located in the far reaches of suburban Washington, D.C., the Leesburg plant attained NRMCA Green-Star Certification in 2015, underscoring a Titan Virginia commitment to environmental management systems and minimizing impact on plant surroundings.

The property bears trees and grass along the front elevation, and is framed on the south by a two-acre storm water detention pond that supports wildlife and abuts the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. Titan Virginia has created a vegetated berm along the eastern side of the plot and built a 6-ft. screening fence on the opposite end. The plant enclosure, batch house and drivers’ break room buildings are well maintained and blend into the natural surroundings.

The Leesburg permit enables the discharge of treated process water and storm water from four concrete-lined settling basins, flows from which enter a small fore-bay settling basin connected to the main pond. An oil/water separator adjacent to the mixer truck fuel station further contributes to meeting water quality targets.

Titan Virginia recently installed a carbon dioxide treatment system to neutralize process water and eliminate the use of sulfuric acid. CO2 injection is currently being instituted at 11 other Titan Virginia locations order to increase safety and reduce equipment maintenance while eliminating hazardous air emissions/vapors from the use of the acid.

 

CENTRAL REGION FIRST PLACE

CEMSTONE PRODUCTS CO.

UMORE PARK PLANT • ROSEMOUNT, MINNESOTA

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Robust vegetation comfortably shields UMORE Park Plant operations from the most visible elevation. Returned concrete is brought to an adjacent aggregates processing yard, where the material is recycled.
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Environmental Manager Pat Bergin trains site staff on weir usage and proper stormwater inspection methods, along with taking readings from well and dust collector pressure meters. Cemstone Products is eyeing metric creation and tracking processes for EMS programs at UMORE Park and sister ready mixed operations in the Upper Midwest.
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The Carbon Cure technology optimizes cement dosage in ready mixed concrete production.

Over the past decade, Cemstone Products has raised the bar on greenfield plant development, most recently evidenced in this two-year old ready mixed operation. Located in the University of Minnesota Outreach, Research, and Education (UMORE) Park ancillary use facility, it is screened by a large berm and a dense row of trees along the county highway. The plant itself is housed in a precast concrete enclosure, while exterior aggregate bins are below ground.

Batching, wash out and rinse down areas are kept in a tight triangle, affording increased operational efficiency and easing conveyance of process water to a weir pit recycling system. Gray water is used to wash out truck drums and in batching of fresh concrete. Presently, 20 percent of all batching water at the UMORE Park Plant is recycled gray water. Cemstone officials aim to increase that figure to 25 percent; at current batching volume, that would equate to annual fresh-water savings of more than 1 million gallons.

The plant recently adopted the Carbon Cure Technologies process. It imparts about one pound of recycled, liquid carbon dioxide per yard of ready mixed. The CO2 effect on cement optimization lowers net carbon by 30-40 lbs./yd. The UMORE Park Plant, notes Cemstone, “is striving to exceed customer expectations while continuing to find and implement innovative, environmentally friendly practices such as water recycling and carbon footprint reduction.”

 

CENTRAL REGION SECOND PLACE

DICKINSON READY MIX CO.

WESTGATE AVENUE PLANT • DICKINSON, NORTH DAKOTA

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Consistent with the Westgate batch plant enclosure, the new washout facility is of cast-in-place, post-tensioned concrete construction. It brings critical driver functions under roof and eases process water, aggregate and cement fine recycling. Outside, DRM continues to create more dust-curtailing hard surface area, while adding tree plantings and taking other good-neighbor measures.
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DRM trucks carry Enviro-Bags for jobsites where contractors fail to provide adequate wash out areas. Drivers wash only mixer chutes in the field; excess concrete is returned to the plant for recycling. The first priority for returned concrete is casting of EcoBlocks.

Regular inspections ensure the DRM flagship facility can consistently exceed federal government, state of North Dakota, and city of Dickinson environmental requirements. An Environmental and Safety Director is tasked with staying current on compliance measures, and ensuring staff are informed of new requirements affecting daily plant and site routines.

Management and staff maintain good rapport with environmental officials through sit down discussions and facility tours. DRM also hosts tours for elementary to high school student groups, and is assisting in concrete curriculum development as part of its Dickinson Middle School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Program sponsorship.

The producer has occupied the Westgate site for 40 years. Following construction of a new batch plant, office and truck shop in 2010, it completed an enclosed truck washout facility last year. Drivers acidize and clean their trucks in the sheltered setting, which DRM presents as a “a giant step forward from washout pits. It is used under all weather conditions and recycles all washout and wash down water.” Aggregates and cementitious materials from the primary wash out cell are transferred to a drying room and used as fill material. Water is continually reused for truck washouts, negating fresh-water use.

 

CENTRAL REGION THIRD PLACE

GCC MID-CONTINENT COMPANY, INC.

SPRINGDALE PLANT • SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS

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The Springdale plant is among GCC operations harboring a pink truck. The producer donates 50 cents of each yard delivered from the themed mixers to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
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All process water runoff is directed to a drainfield, where a perforated pipe transfers it to the first of two holding tanks; after filling, water decants to the second. Settled water can either be recycled back to the plant for non-spec concrete work or used on aggregate stockpiles. A concrete channel with steps helps capture stormwater sediments from runoff bound for the detention pond. Stormwater is also collected in stockpile areas to keep lightweight aggregates under constant moisture.

GCC Springdale is mindful of aesthetics and housekeeping across the plant, office building, shop, fueling and material storage areas, truck washout pits, returned mix windrow pad, and stormwater pond. Adherence to the “5S” program—emphasizing the importance of order, organization, and cleanliness—promote a safe working environment.

A corporate environmental department oversees annual training for the Springdale plant manager and counterparts throughout the GCC Mid-Continent ready mixed operations. Participants gain insight on how to use the SWPPP and SPCC; perform environmental related sampling; and, conduct and document routine equipment and facility inspections. Plant managers are in turn responsible for training site employees on implementing and maintaining environmental policies. In the future, they will be charged with an auditable environmental management system presently in the works. It will store environmental documentation and track practices and processes aimed at lowering environmental impact.

GCC has implemented many plant level procedures to cut environmental risks and impacts, from cement offloading to stormwater capture to waste minimization. The Springdale facility’s stormwater detention pond has a concrete step system positioned at the entrance to ensure that a majority of the solids are dropped out before runoff reaches the pond. Once stormwater enters the pond, remaining solids have additional time to settle before discharging off site. Concrete returned to the plant is used to cast blocks, deployed at the Springdale site or sold to outside parties. The plant also has a designated area—shaped like a bowl to prevent runoff—for windrowing leftover mix.

In addition to water and air quality measures, Springdale plant staff is weighing energy conservation measures on the heels of a University of Arkansas audit backed by the U.S. Department of Energy Industrial Assessment Center.

 

WESTERN REGION FIRST PLACE

CALPORTLAND CO.

DUWAMISH READY MIX PLANT • SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

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Mindful of the plant’s high visibility among Seattle commuters and residents, CalPortland ensures overall upkeep, plus appealing site entrance and exit area treatments.
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Environmental compliance, site limitations and CalPortland operating philosophy drive exhaustive recycling measures at the Duwamish plant. A concrete recovery system cleans and reclaims aggregates from 85 percent of returned material loads, the remaining volume placed in eco block forms or hardened for off-site recycling. Recovery system and other process water is settled ahead of pumping to a filter press, capping a recycling loop.

Sustainability is a way of business for the high-profile Duwamish facility, located on a key thoroughfare into downtown Seattle. Proximity to the Puget Sound enables material delivery by barge, typically 75 percent more fuel efficient than trucking. Advanced recycling methods for returned concrete and truck washout net up to 6,000 tons of recovered aggregates monthly.

Site air quality and water management systems are based on a series of best practices, which are continually updated to reflect changes in operations and environmental compliance. A CalPortland Environmental Manager provides annual training to all employees, stressing critical aspects of the producer’s water, air and solid waste programs.

Water management at the Duwamish plant emphasizes recycling back into concrete mixes, along with recovering valuable sand & gravel from returned material. Augmenting resource recovery is the recent addition of an advanced filter press, which extracts clarified, batch-grade water from process flows. Major storm events aside, plant staff is able to recycle 100 percent of process water through much of the year. Beyond duties surrounding the fleet and general housekeeping at the plant, mixer truck drivers abide strict jobsite washout standards. All trucks have chute-mounted vessels for use on sites that do not have appropriate washout areas.

 

WESTERN REGION SECOND PLACE

CENTRAL CONCRETE SUPPLY CO.

QUEENS LANE PLANT • SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA

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Central Concrete’s adoption of carbon dioxide-sequestering methods from Halifax, Nova Scotia-based CarbonCure Technologies prompted a recent Queens Lane plant visit from Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna and a California Governor Jerry Brown delegation. Attendees learned how the CarbonCure technology sources carbon from local industrial emitters and converts the greenhouse gas into nano-sized minerals designed to create a stronger, greener concrete.
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When stabilizing returned concrete to ASTM C1798 specs for use in a forthcoming order is not an option, Queens Lane drivers turn to twin concrete reclaimers (above) to separate coarse and fine aggregate and transfer water to a chiller-equipped, 25,000-gal. tank. Once it reaches specific gravity and temperature targets, process water is recycled in concrete mixes or for truck washout and other yard maintenance.
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Central Concrete equips Queens Lane as a zero discharge facility. Managers and staff strive to contain and reuse all process water and harvest rain water for dust control, irrigation, plant housekeeping and batching concrete. An above ground tank (above) moves process water from settling ponds back to the reclaimer and chiller.
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Queens Lane employees and peers from other Central Concrete sites participate in an annual fundraiser, the Northern California Special Olympics Plane Pull, where teams compete to move nearly 76,000 lbs. of military C-130 craft the farthest in a target time. Concrete mixer trucks have been deployed in past pull events.

Central Concrete’s home base workhorse runs one wet and one dry plant. The Queens Lane facility is in the middle of a highly industrialized area of San Jose bearing little to no naturally occurring trees or shrubbery. Upon acquiring the facility in 1999, the producer preserved large redwood and big-leaf maple trees and designated about 6,500 sq. ft. of ground cover and shrubs as a buffer between the plant walls and surrounding sidewalks and streets.

As an NRMCA Green-Star Certified plant, Queens Lane utilizes an environmental management system covering operational aspects from hazardous materials handling and stormwater collection to dust control measures and Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections. Staff relies heavily on the EMS to maintain compliance with all federal, state and local regulations, while management treats system parts as iterative processes with quarterly inspection, improvement and action cycles to ensure the plant remains ahead of the curve.

An annual training program covers the gamut of environmental and safety factors at Queens Lane and sister northern California sites, including spill prevention control and countermeasures, hazardous material/waste handling and storage, stormwater pollution prevention, plus injury and illness prevention. Monthly training sessions are tailored to yard staff, operating engineers and concrete delivery professionals.