FIRST PLACE – CALPORTLAND CO.
FRONT AVENUE PLANT, PORTLAND, OREGON
Location along the Willamette River, close to downtown Portland, positions the Front Avenue Plant for prominent public view, especially from recreational vessels. In order to keep the views as natural as possible within an industrial area, the entire upper bank of the CalPortland property is festooned with Douglas fir trees, Oregon grape, azaleas and rhododendron—all native species.
A refurbished 1930-40s-era mixer barrel is used as the entry sign and sets a color scheme in which the central mixed batch plant, conveyors and companion enclosures blend with the surrounding area. The batch plant tower and admixture storage buildings are painted gray with blue trim to match the CalPortland mixer fleet.
Among practices plant personnel employ to ensure the site is clean and operating within permits: chemical storage in an orderly fashion and within secondary containment; immediate clean up of spills or leaks; frequent washing of the paved areas with an onsite water truck; continual cleaning from under the conveyers and load out areas using a shovel or high pressure hose tapping recycled-water supply; regular disposal of refuse and solids; and, prevention of excess liquid and chemical accumulation.
As part of the site’s Environmental Management Systems (EMS), a monthly environmental checklist covers on site fuel tanks, discharge points, treatment cells, air quality equipment, sampling requirements and stormwater visual inspections. A shop checklist covers activities associated with vehicle maintenance activities and liquid product storage. A Drum and Barrel Identification Policy aims to minimize the purchase and use of products sold in such vessels whenever possible; ensure proper storage, labeling and, when necessary, product disposal; and, prevent empty container accumulation.
The Front Avenue Plant is designed to contain and treat all process water and stormwater discharges. During site construction and development, the process water area was minimized in order to limit the amount of stormwater it receives, thereby minimizing treatment requirements. Continuous monitoring of water quality discharges and water quality for use on site are high priorities. Several measures, including pH probes, alarms and an employee callout system, ensure the pH of all process water and stormwater is within the parameters set by the site’s NPDES and Industrial Wastewater Discharge permits.
Four pH probes in the process water handling area continuously measure treatment. Floats and alarms are also utilized in the process area treatment and storage tanks to initiate response if the water system fails. The Front Avenue Plant lies along an approximately eight-mile section of the Willamette River the Environmental Protection Agency has designated a Superfund site. Stormwater quality is crucial when discharging to the river; permitting requires sampling for pesticides, herbicides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, heavy metals, plus oil, grease and suspended solids.
On the sustainability side, the Front Avenue Plant fleet has a longstanding practice of using a 5-percent biodiesel blend. Barge-based aggregate delivery greatly curtails fuel consumption and road traffic attending truck hauling. Over the past decade, an energy conservation strategy has dictated procurement: Replacements for any powered component or machine must have the greatest efficiency for the function performed. Conveyors have likewise been fitted with timers that run belts when needed and shut off when not used. CalPortland also evaluates the energy consumption of its facilities with an internal database that tracks power use and cost.
RUNNER-UP – DOLESE BROS. CO.
YUKON PLANT, YUKON, OKLAHOMA
Emergency reporting and procedures are target topics in daily safety and environmental briefings in the producer’s new “Catwalk Conversations.” Employees are encouraged to submit their own material to discuss, but can also access an internal website, the “Dolese Portal.” Management spreads responsibility for environmental management at the Yukon Batch Plant and sister facilities, with team members including:
- Management Coordinator, who at the corporate level has the ultimate responsibility and ensures the availability of resources needed to implement, maintain and improve plants’ environmental programs.
- Environmental Coordinator, who oversees all environmental program aspects—development, management, implementation, assessments, and compliance with rules and regulations.
- Implementation Coordinator or General Superintendent of Concrete Operations, who partners with the Environmental Coordinator on overall program implementation and execution.
- SWP3 Officer, who ensures implementation and maintenance of environmental program requirements; oversees regular inspections; conducts training; identifies deficiencies and necessary modifications; collects data and samples; and, acts as the field Emergency Spill Coordinator.
Dolese Bros. is committed to achieving and maintaining excellence in all environmental affairs. It provides solid leadership by example and demonstrates environmental stewardship in all operational aspects. At the Yukon Batch Plant facility personnel conduct many different environmental inspections that cover a wide range of environmental-related areas: a) daily routine inspections in which all plant personnel look for any potential issues of environmental concern; b) monthly inspections, where the plant manager completes a standardized Monthly Inspection & Site Evaluation Form and sends it electronically to the Environmental Department; and, c) annual inspection, where a member of the Dolese Bros. Environmental Department reviews the plant site and all records.
Environmental best management practices at the Yukon Batch Plant include vegetation and riprap controls to protect slopes, berms, and embankments to control erosion and sediment runoff; yard maintenance with mechanical sweepers, ensuring neat and orderly storage areas (outdoor parts, equipment and materials are stored 2 feet off the ground); regular scheduling of recycling or disposal of batteries, used oil filters, and other unneeded items; placing metal-framed, oil-only absorbing mat pads under leaking vehicles; keeping vehicles and equipment well maintained to prevent leaks, oil drips, and fluid spills; and, conducting training sessions to make sure employees are prepared to respond appropriately to spills or other environmental hazards.
HONORABLE MENTION – CAMPBELL CONCRETE & MATERIALS, LLC
HARWIN PLANT, HOUSTON, TEXAS
Located in a retail shopping area and adjacent to a state government building, the Harwin Plant is highly visible to the general public. Campbell Concrete has recently painted the plant silos, erected new entrance, traffic, parking and quality control lab signage, replaced buildings, and established the “6S Program” for continuous improvement in good housekeeping.
The facility uses Lehigh Hanson’s EnviroLIS system, a portal for proactively managing environmental permits, compliance matters, and reporting site information. The system follows the four steps of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle key to continuous improvement. All permit conditions and associated tasks are part of EnviroLIS system and have a point person, typically the plant manager for plant level inspections and recordkeeping, and area environmental manager for permit renewals and regulatory submittals. Both are notified by the system as the various tasks become due.
EnviroLIS weighs historical data through a “Trend Analysis” tool to proactively look into the areas of emphasis and/or priorities for a site. All tasks with semiannual or greater frequency (monthly, quarterly, weekly and daily) are performed by plant personnel. Annual Comprehensive Evaluations and more formalized audits are performed by the area environmental manager to ensure independent checks and balances.
With ongoing drought conditions in south Texas, remains a precious natural resource. The goal at the Harwin Plant and sister Campbell operations is to harvest and store all water on-site for reuse in production or dust suppression, consistent with zero discharge facilities. The Harwin Plant is graded such that all stormwater from the plant area is maintained on-site in either the retention pond or the 40,000-gal. weir water storage pit (shown here). Water from the rinsing of mixer truck exteriors is channeled into the weir system where suspended solids are allowed to settle out of the rinse water before storage in the pit. A biodegradable flocculent is utilized in the weir pits to remove suspended solids, yielding cleaner water for concrete production. The weir pit can supply more than half of the Harwin Plant’s water.
Campbell’s commitment to plant sustainability is illustrated in the established corporate Core Values of (1) People, (2) Safety, (3) Relationships, (4) Community, (5) Financial Stability, and (6) Future. Similarly, the 6S Program—Standardize / Sustain / Safety / Sort / Store / Shine—fosters good housekeeping practices to support environmental compliance and promote workplace safety and employee pride.
HONORABLE MENTION – EASTERN CONCRETE MATERIALS
BOGOTA PLANT, BOGOTA, NEW JERSEY
A major overhaul centered on housekeeping, safety improvements and environmental compliance continued from 2014 into this year, and was capped with construction of a brick sign giving the Bogota Plant new prominence along an industrial-zoned stretch. Staff tackled upgrades by breaking the plant down into functional areas of material transfer, production and fleet management; goals for each were defined around aesthetics, accident prevention and safe operating procedures, plus efficiency.
Work proceeded with NRMCA Green-Star certification phase two efforts. Eastern Concrete views the Environmental Management System accompanying Green-Star as a catalyst for documented improvement in environmental matters and operational efficiency. The EMS calls for staff-wide training on new procedures for stormwater pollution prevention; spill prevention control and counter measures; and hazardous communication.
Management added perspective to the training and plant upgrades through this mission statement: “As a steward of our environment, Eastern Concrete/Bogota Plant is commited to the highest levels of compliance, pollution prevention, and continuous improvement. Through inspection and documentation programs, our production facility will effectively manage air, water and hazardous materials to ensure they in no way negatively impact the environment.”
Eastern Concrete Materials does not maintain process water discharge permits at any of its plants, sited throughout northern New Jersey. The Bogota Plant reuses process water and stormwater, capturing them in pits and storage vessels through pavement grading. Concurrent with the water management upgrades, the producer improved holding cells for drying pit material and storing waste concrete. When returned-mix volume warrants, a standard operating procedure now applies to bunker block production.
The Green-Star EMS supports daily and monthly inspection of air quality components: central and top bin dust collectors plus central mixer drum shield. Pinch valves are linked to silo high lights to ensure top bin dust collectors are not compromised; they eliminate the potential for fugitive dust conditions even if a tanker driver ignores the high light indicator. Mixer drum inspection is performed at every 200 yd. of output, augmenting fugitive dust control by ensuring cement discharge components remain clear.
Initial Green-Star certification efforts, coupled with continuous improvement measures, are reflected in the Bogota Plant’s air quality, water and solid waste management baselines. The Green-Star EMS goes beyond those criteria, Eastern Concrete affirms: “Given all the requirements [it] establishes for inspection and documentation of outfalls, fence lines, equipment, plants, water pits, waste materials, fuel [and] grease storage, chemical inventory, tools, trucks, yellow iron, general housekeeping, and third party vendor equipment, one must conclude the program directly supports serviceability, sustainability and profitability. Certification is a measure, means and validation of excellence.”
HONORABLE MENTION – GCC MID-CONTINENT CONCRETE CO.
Plant management and community outreach have fostered GCC’s tight working relationships with officials at the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County Parks Department. Company-organized community advisory panels provide forums through which local businesses and residents can help ensure GCC operates in the most environmentally and community sensitive manner possible.
TULSA PLANT, TULSA, OKLAHOMA
GCC of America sees the Tulsa operation on track to becoming one of the industry’s environmental benchmarks. The plant’s proximity to the Arkansas River, plus abundant green space and recreational areas, drive many practices to reduce adverse impacts from ready mixed production. A dust control system ensures that air particulates are minimized at the site and surrounding areas, while a recently acquired street sweeper removes dust from paved surfaces.
The Tulsa Plant is bound by a corporate environmental policy ensuring the integrated cement and ready mixed producer is a responsible business partner at the local level. It embraces principles of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development/Cement Sustainability Initiative, resulting in GCC’s commitment to:
- Considering environmental and social impacts in key decision making processes;
- Developing and maintaining employee health and safety standards, procedures and protocol;
- Reducing company particulate emissions through source measurement, monitoring, and process improvements;
- Ensuring responsible use of fuels and raw materials;
- Establishing a systematic dialogue process with stakeholders to understand and address their expectations; and,
- Delivering documented and auditable Environmental Management Systems at all plants.
In addition, GCC is committed to developing Responsible Sourcing Schemes and Environmental Product Declarations; both provide added transparency on information relating to business and end product environmental impacts. Business or production impacts have eased thanks to GCC’s response to findings from an audit by the Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessment Center, Oklahoma State University Chapter. Management implemented numerous changes to minimize environmental impact and boost operational efficiency: air compressor waste heat recovery for plant heating; cleaning or repairing HVAC unit condenser coils, providing fresh air intake for the air compressor room; replacing an uninsulated water storage tank with an insulated model; implementing a night setback in the main office building; retrofitting office fixtures with more energy efficient alternatives; and, insulating chiller supply and return pipes.