Commitment to Environmental Excellence Awards
- Written by CP Staff
The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association salutes winning and honorable mention plants in the 2013 Commitment to Environmental Excellence Awards program. Cosponsored by Concrete Products, it offers producers national recognition for outstanding contributions to protecting the environment and maintaining sound environmental management practices.
“These plants have demonstrated that they are the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to being good stewards of the environment,” affirms 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 plants clearly demonstrate the incorporation of environmental management systems.”
The NRMCA Operations, Environmental and Safety Committee and its Environmental Task Group underscore how award candidates have not only met, but surpassed governmental compliance requirements and demonstrated commitments through plant and staff investment. Eligible plants include those sites under NRMCA producer members located in the U.S., its territories, or Canada. Environmental Excellence Award entries are divided into categories based on 2012 production volumes: A for plants producing less than 25,000 yd.; B, 25,001 to 50,000 yd.; C, 50,001 to 100,000 yd.; D, 100,001 to 200,000 yd.; and, E, 200,000-plus yd.
Entries consist of a written narrative and images covering 11 evaluation criteria, including site aesthetics, documented plant procedures, training and employee involvement, air- and water-pollution control methods, noise-abatement measures, community relations, operating challenges, and overall management commitment. A panel of regulatory officials, industry and environmental consultants judge the entries.
Any NRMCA member company in good standing, owning a fixed U.S. or Canadian plant that has operated in full compliance with federal, state and local environmental regulations for a minimum of two years is eligible to enter the Environmental Excellence Awards program. Since contestants’ participation is vital to sustaining the competition, producers are encouraged to enter their plants for the 2014 program. Entry forms will be posted next year at www.nrmca.org.
CATEGORY A FIRST PLACE : AGGREGATE INDUSTRIES BELLE PLAINE PLANT, BELLE PLAINE, MINN.
The Belle Plaine operation is part of a far-reaching network of Aggregate Industries Inc. ready mixed plants bound by a corporate environmental policy oriented around internal goals, ISO 14001-level certification, plus agreements or partnerships with the Environmental Protection Agency. The Environmental Policy commits Aggregate Industries to:
• Reduce negative impacts and aim to enhance the positive aspects of its operations, products and services on the natural and social environment;
• Comply with all legislation, regulations and other requirements relevant to business activities;
• Establish systems to prevent pollution and nuisance to local communities, and encourage recycling plus reduction of waste and energy usage;
• Manage landholdings to protect and enhance biodiversity;
• Promote the use of more sustainable construction methods by providing market leading products and solutions; and,
• Raise environmental awareness and the importance of being a good corporate citizen through the training and development of employees, suppliers and subcontractors.
New employees are apprised of the policy on day one. Aggregate Industries Environmental Advisors reiterate the goals during annual training for all plant employees. The corporate Environmental Policy is tied to the producer’s ISO 14001 certification, attained through independent auditor review.
At the Belle Plaine plant, that certification is also reflected in a comprehensive Environmental Management System (EMS), which is organized, managed, and maintained through a BSI Entropy Systems intranet, dubbed “Envoy.” All site representatives have access to the system with operation-specific information regarding: action plans; aspects and impacts; audits and non-conformances; corporate and site procedures; energy monitoring, external communication; incidents; legislation, permits, plans and records; management reviews; meetings; objectives and targets; roles and responsibilities; site structure; and, training.
As part of the ISO 14001 implementation process, Aggregate Industries conducted a systematic assessment of activities at Belle Plaine and other sites in order to gauge their environmental risks. Staff reviewed operations’ potential impacts on air, land, and water quality.
CATEGORY A SECOND PLACE: DOLESE BROS. CO. CUSHING BATCH PLANT, CUSHING, OKLA.
Dolese Bros. acquired the 4.65-acre Cushing operation in October 2011, effecting a number of upgrades to bring environmental performance and aesthetics to company-wide standards for ready mixed sites. The producer created a Bermuda grass green belt around the property and installed perimeter fencing, and improved storm water management with new drainage structures and an impoundment. Truck wash-out and cleaning areas were extended, organized and consolidated at the apron of three-cell impoundment. Good housekeeping procedures and scrupulous equipment maintenance practices—signature features of Dolese Bros. operations—are well demonstrated at the Cushing Batch Plant.
CATEGORY A HONORABLE MENTION: PETE LIEN & SONS, INC. SPEARFISH PLANT, SPEARFISH, S.D.
The plant is located on four acres, just around the corner from the largest retail facility in a town of 11,000, which borders the scenic Black Hills and values tourism plus outdoor recreation. Pete Lien & Sons has demonstrated commitment to the communities it serves by keeping sites at or above regulators’ standards for environmental performance and safety. Each site supervisor is educated on permit restrictions and best practices for the industry. All audits are reviewed with the division manager before the auditor leaves the site. Reports noting any deficiencies, corrective action, and due dates for corrective actions are sent directly to chief operating officer and two other managers.
All Peter Lien & Sons ready mixed production facilities are under going assessment for EPA Energy Star recognition. Two sites have also been scheduled for audits to become the company’s first NRMCA Green-Star Certified sites.
CATEGORY B FIRST PLACE: S&W READY MIX CONCRETE CASTLE HAYNE PLANT, CASTLE HAYNE, N.C.
Environmental management and adoption of related best practices have been at the heart of a plant that has operated since its 1997 opening without a federal, state or local agency citation, and been recognized in multiple Environmental Excellence programs.
S&W management believes strongly that image and appearance help to display a commitment to the environment. Built on 30 acres of cleared timber area—a third remaining wetland—the Castle Hayne plant structure, attached office building and surrounding 8-ft. concrete wall exhibit a clean, professional work environment. Grounds are professionally landscaped and maintained; where possible, natural vegetation and existing trees are incorporated into the landscape scheme. With its distinguishing concrete pillows and pillow caps at the joints, the perimeter wall complements the 75-ft. plant structure.
S&W uses the web-based Envirolis system to manage environmental procedures and compliance issues. Daily, monthly or annual reminders on compliance actions are sent via email to Castle Hayne and sister plant managers. Operating permits can be retrieved electronically at any time and renewal notices are automatically relayed.
The Castle Hayne facility is adjacent to a residential area, and staff pays special attention to ensure plant operation does not negatively impact neighbors. The 8-ft. concrete wall contains truck and production noises, while preventing fugitive emissions from blowing onto adjacent properties. Wall construction was setback from the actual property lines and the natural vegetation was left to ensure a comfortable residential-to-industrial transition.
CATEGORY B SECOND PLACE: BOXLEY CONCRETE PRODUCTS ROANOKE PLANT, ROANOKE, VA .
The Roanoke plant was the first in Virginia and 11th in the industry to become NRMCA Green-Star certified, maintaining that designation since 2009 with a professional engineer on staff who serves as trained program auditor. More recently, Boxley Concrete formed an environmental compliance team for five Virginia ready mixed plants, with two members from Roanoke and three other peers. Its goal is to ensure that environmental inspections, permits and associated paper work are up to date.
Building on Green-Star practices, Boxley Concrete is targeting NRMCA Sustainable Concrete Plant Certification, to include a material transportation analysis. Staff calculated that the Roanoke operation uses 13.8 lb. CO2e/yd. (pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per yard of concrete produced) versus a national baseline of 76.9 lb. CO2e/cy. The low material transportation carbon footprint is reflected in the plant’s proximity to a Boxley quarry and the Roanoke Cement mill, each less than 20 miles away.
Consistent housekeeping helps maintain a tidy and attractive site. Most of the production lot is covered with #57 stone, while pervious concrete runs alongside the dispatch building. Rainwater flows through the pervious slab, allowing the trees and bushes to thrive. Staff has planted an additional trees and bushes around the plant perimeter to add to landscaping and enhance the site’s curb appeal.
To assure transparency and accountability, Boxley Concrete has published an annual sustainability report since 2009, posted at www.Boxley.com; it documents operations’ recycled water usage, production of blocks from returned mixes, plus cardboard, plastic and aluminum recycling activities.
CATEGORY B HONORABLE MENTION: CENTRAL CAROLINA CONCRETE, LLC WINSTON-SALEM PLANT, WINSTON- SALEM, N.C.
Central Concrete officials view Winston-Salem as their nicest and best maintained operation. The sizable site harbors mature trees and varying land sways on the natural edge of the property away from the batch plant. The batch operator performs general housekeeping across the site: regular cleaning of paved areas, maintaining washout pit structure, and placing settled debris and left over concrete in a drying area to be hauled off. The mostly unpaved yard is washed down at least twice a month with recycled water as a way to reduce the amount of process water on hand and minimize fugitive dust.
A pit system, equipped with automated pH adjustment tanks, is designed to catch all of the process water from the batch plant and truck washing operations. Any runoff from other areas of the yard flows to a detention pond, which helps to minimize the amount of process water on site and maintain water segregation.
Central Carolina Concrete is part of Charlotte-based Concrete Supply Co., which posts on its web site company-wide “Green Initiatives” detailing plants’ environmental responsibility and staff measures take to accomplish green operating goals. Supporting Green Initiatives at the Winston-Salem and other plants are audits for the EPA Energy Star Program.
CATEGORY B HONORABLE MENTION: DOLESE BROS. CO. ARDMORE BATCH PLANT, ARDMORE, OKLA.
The Ardmore plant bears the signature of a thorough overall Dolese Bros. has conducted during the decade since it acquired the site: removal of truckloads of junk, including readily recycled steel scrap; neatly paving areas most prone to fostering ground-based dust; overhauled baghouse dust collector, backed with new maintenance program; load point dust collector system to operate at top efficiency during mixer truck charging; vegetation management, including Bermuda grass planting to keep weeds in check; and, tidy concrete wash-out pits and water impoundments, each with secured perimeters.
The upgrades are consistent with the Dolese Bros. company-wide Environmental Policy Statement. Adherence is to the detailed policy is evident in the rapport Ardmore staff has with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, which requires only one formal site inspection and one formal training session per year— targets plant management exceeds by considerable measure. On the other side of the desk, ODEQ has requested Dolese Bros. allow the department to conduct its own training sessions at Ardmore for employees new to concrete operations.
Regardless of the occasion, any visitor who happens to ask the manager if he follows environmental documentation or procedures at the site, the answer will be: “If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.” Priority environmental matters like changing out a filter berm, cleaning out a secondary containment system, changing the dust collector filter bags, or cleaning up drips all must be written down and filed. If the task is important enough to perform, Dolese Bros. contends, then it is important enough to document.
CATEGORY C FIRST PLACE: WESTROC, KILGORE COMPANIES AMERICAN FORK PLANT, AMERICAN FORK, UTAH
True to the company motto, “Strategies for a Sustainable Future,” Westroc AF is among very few ready mixed operations carrying NRMCA Green-Star certification and running a truck maintenance shop built to U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification standards.
The green building standards are reflected in the shop’s orientation and design: the structure is located directly on an east-west azimuth, with the south elevation sporting large bay windows to lower power consumption and augment roof skylights’ natural lighting. Westroc offers shop tours on the third Mondays of each month to the local community and architectural, engineering and construction professionals seeking or maintaining LEED accreditations.
Westroc AF is Green-Star Certified plant #323. One of the goals for the first audit cycle was to reduce electricity consumption 10 percent, a target staff bested by 11 points. Another goal centered on mixer idling and routing, early actions netting a 2 percent increase in vehicle mileage. Management envisions another 3 percent gain in fuel efficiency for subsequent Green-Star audit cycles.
The plant is landscaped with native rocks and vegetation, the latter conserving water, a precious resource in the central Utah desert. Yard process water is also harvested by sloping all pavements to a five-cell reclamation system. Storm water is diverted to a catch basin and does not leave the property.
The plant uses the NRMCA Environmental Checklist and an environmental training matrix to educate employees on their responsibilities. Annual environmental training topics, broken down by job category, include Green-Star goal review; storm water discharge and best management practices; truck and chute washing procedures; gray water, used oil and universal waste management; spill cleanup; baghouse inspections; cement/fly-ash tanker unloading; pit sludge cleanout; recycling; and, parts cleaner. Most of the environmental training topics are short classes where employees read and verify they have been trained in the topic.
CATEGORY C SECOND PLACE: MMC MATERIALS, INC. I-220 PLANT, JACKSON, MISS.
The producer’s Statement of Values leaves little to chance: “Our commitment is to give customers and community the level of service and quality that is second to none while working to fully comply with federal, state, and local environmental regulations. Our greatest resource is our employees and recognizing this we are committed to provide the training and resources needed to eliminate pollution, maximize the reclamation and recycling of materials and reduce energy consumption.”
Commitment to the program has resulted in these sustainability-driven goals and actions: a) Reduced Carbon Footprint—planting a tree for every month without a loss time accident; b) Energy Conservation—implementing a mixer truck idle policy; c) Recycle—purchasing recycled products when possible, and recycling as often as possible; d) Process Emissions—using recycled water to control yard dust; and, e) Solids Management—placing all returned concrete in precasting forms or crushing for resale as road base.
The MMC Materials I-220 plant is Mississippi’s first ready mixed operation with NRMCA Green-Star Certification. In a first for an operator serving the Southeast, the producer recently added 12 compressed natural gas-powered mixers to the I-220 fleet, along with compressor and CNG fueling infrastructure.
CATEGORY C HONORABLE MENTION: AGGREGATE INDUSTRIES NORTHEAST REGION. INC. WALTHAM, MASS.
The plant is located in a residential and commercial area, with trees and shrubbery on the north, east and west, plus a commuter rail line along the south end. Staff are bound by the Aggregate Industries Environmental Policy, which calls for the producer to “Minimize the impacts of its operations on the natural and social environment; fully integrate environmental management into all operations; actively promote the use of recycled materials and minimize waste generation; establish systems for pollution prevention; and, comply with all environmental legislation, regulations and other requirements relevant to business activities.”
Aggregate Industries NE recently upgraded the Waltham sedimentation pond #1, the primary storm water impoundment, by reinforcing the outer edge, toward the neighboring railroad track, plus a rip rap drainage area on the plant side. A raised concrete platform was also constructed to ensure storm water flows to designated drainage areas leading to the pond and preserving the rip rap slope. A sedimentation basin increases storm water retention time and allows for ground infiltration. Water is pumped from sedimentation pond #1 to the basin to allow infiltration and minimize storm water discharges.
CATEGORY C HONORABLE MENTION: CEMEX CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS FLORIDA, LLC HUDSON READY-MIX, HUDSON, FLA.
Situated on a nearly 6-acre site, the batch plant and office are at the center of the operating area, with mixers, loaders and haulers routed in a circular traffic pattern. Hudson plant features include decorative limestone boulders and Sabal palms at the entry; fully paved mixer truck parking and traffic areas to prevent fugitive dust emissions and track out; four-cell wastewater system, water from which is recycled for aggregate wetting and drum rinsing; and, exterior lighting fixtures equipped with LED bulbs. A large storm water retention system along the site’s northern border remains dry much of the year due to highly porous, sandy soils.
Like all Cemex ready mixed plants, Hudson displays an “Environmental Center,” with current permits and records. It allows the plant operator to have a visual reminder of all the permit-required recordkeeping, monitoring, and inspections, and agency inspectors to find all pertinent plant information in one spot.
CATEGORY D HONORABLE MENTION: CEMEX WEST ORANGE PLANT, WINTER GARDEN, FLA.
Surrounded by open fields and woods on three sides and an asphalt plant on the other, the 7.5-acre property sits off the main road approximately .5 mile, and is partially hidden by land elevation changes and other businesses. The office is at the front of the West Orange site, with two ready mixed plants in the middle. Aggregate storage areas are located in the back of the property and hidden by a bin block wall.
Returned concrete recycling and truck washout areas are near the rear of the facility. The flow of water is managed using the grade of the yard, swales, and curbs. Sediment traps are utilized to filter the water before it enters site ponds. Traffic patterns are arranged to minimize interference between mixer and haul trucks, plus customer vehicles. Signs designate traffic patterns, speed limits, PPE requirements, and plant service areas. About 70 percent of the site is paved.
A “Fuel Log” system tracks diesel usage of mixers, forklifts and loaders, each fitted with a metal ring around fuel tank openings. When an employee dispenses fuel, as soon as the nozzle crosses the plane of the ring going into the tank it records the truck number, odometer and hour reading. Fuel quantity and other data are relayed to a secured web site for management review and consumption tracking.
CATEGORY D FIRST PLACE: DOLESE BROS. CO. YUKON BATCH PLANT, YUKON, OKLA.
Adjacent to the Kilpatrick Turnpike, the Yukon Batch Plant and Stone Yard is in view of tens of thousands of motorists daily—adding incentive to staff already inclined to prioritize site aesthetics. The operation spans a triangular shaped parcel surrounded on two sides by tall cedar trees and lower vegetation, which combine for a natural wind block and break. The north side of the property, with manicured and curbed lawn, is adjacent to a heavily traveled roadway.
Company policy prohibits the use of water to wash under the plant, a dry clean-up method helping to maintain total retention facility status. All process water is stored in permitted impoundments until it can be recycled or consumed in batching. Best management practices position the Yukon Batch Plant as an Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and Oklahoma City Storm Water Management Division training site.
Sand and coarse aggregate silos are charged with a rail car unloading system; as materials reach a 90-degree turn toward the top, small quantities fall to the paved area below. Employees shovel the material immediately, eliminating excessive fines and solids that can wash away during rain events, or become windblown.
Dolese Bros. evaluates and measures facilities’ environmental performance through a Chinstrap Awards program. Each site is assessed and ranked quarterly on such criteria as compliance and best management practices implementation, plus timely, proper submittal of paperwork and documents. The Yukon Batch Plant regularly ranks high in Chinstrap scoring.
CATEGORY D SECOND PLACE: CEMEX REGENCY PARK PLANT, ORLANDO, FLA.
The plant is located in a large industrial area near other concrete and crushing operations. Ponds flank the 11-acre site’s lone entry driveway, with the office building behind the left pond. The placement helps shield concrete production and truck washout from public view, while aggregate storage areas are located on the far east side of the property and partially hidden by bin blocks. A four-bay truck and equipment maintenance shop on the property’s southeast corner has its own parking area and yard.
With 60 percent of the area paved, the plant limits fugitive emissions. Pavement is swept or washed down at least once a week, along with other daily housekeeping activities. Water management measures at Regency Park include:
• Yard pavement, plus curbs and swales to channel storm water into sediment traps before it enters the pond.
• A system of two ponds, the first acting as another filter before the water enters into the second, where it would discharge off-site. Sediment traps and the first pond provide for a clean water discharge as allowed by the permit.
• A three-cell concrete weir system for returned mixes and process water handling. When returned concrete cannot be re-used or placed in bin block forms, it is unloaded for three-stage settling and transfer.
• Concrete containment vessel for admixture tanks.
• Shop storage of 55-gal. drums and other oil products, isolating them from storm water contact.
• Aggregate ground bin areas paved and appropriately located so that the runoff goes into the first pond.
The site is bound by Cemex’s global Health Safety and Environmental Policy, with initiatives and guidelines such as 1) a zero discharge of concrete waste and process water; 2) reduction of fresh water usage by consuming recycled process water for batch mixes, truck washing and drum washout; 3) secondary containment and/or drip containment on all liquid chemical products used or stored; 4) regular inspections of yards and baghouse dust collectors; 5) limited truck idling to reduce diesel fuel consumption; and, 6) a preventive equipment maintenance.
Cemex Environmental or Plant Managers conduct biannual inspections, reviewing operations’ permitting requirements and environmental compliance tied to water and air pollution control, plus handling of waste, oil and other materials subject to regulation. Ready-Mix and the Fleet Maintenance Shop groups are scored separately.
CATEGORY D HONORABLE MENTION: BOSTON SAND AND GRAVEL CO. CHARLESTOWN PLANT, BOSTON, MASS.
The Charlestown plant is a Boston landmark and industry classic. It encompasses three batch plants plus aggregate distribution and vehicle maintenance facilities on noncontiguous parcels of land approximately 10 and 5 acres, respectively, connected by a private access road. The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority subway system, Massachusetts Transit Authority rail lines, Interstate 93, Bunker Hill Community College, and various industrial and commercial facilities abut the parcels.
Joining the batch plants in the ready mixed production complex are central dispatch office, quality control lab, and a wastewater treatment plant, fueling depot with two 10,000-gal. tanks; boiler house and plant; maintenance facility; recycling systems for co-mingled process and storm water; returned concrete recycling system; and, an area for managing returned concrete (block casting and ribbon feed). The aggregate distribution operation includes storage piles, conveyors, tunnels and a rail terminal. The vehicle maintenance complex houses one wash and eight service bays; lube, parts and equipment rooms; offices and driver break room; the “Barn,” where 60 mixers park overnight; and, a warehouse.
The maintenance facility also houses a solar energy production system, powered by a roof-mounted, 109-kW photovoltaic panel array. Nearing its sixth year in operation, the array was designed to provide 75 percent of the maintenance facility’s annual energy demand. Through a series of small improvements in garage operation, the building now consumes 43 percent less power than in 2008, while the array generates the equivalent of 110 percent of the facility’s power needs. Accounting for lower output when the sun does not shine, annual electricity costs for the garage are down 89 percent since the photovoltaic panels were activated in December 2008. Boston Sand & Gravel carries a renewable energy message on mixer trucks, contracting with an artist who interprets the solar theme.