EPA lauds Roanoke role in RM customers’ double-digit energy cuts

Source: Roanoke Cement Co., Virginia

By Don Marsh

Through 3,000-plus hours of technical assistance and energy management training last year, Roanoke Cement’s Plant A Star program saw staff position a group of ready mixed concrete customers to reduce plants’ electricity consumption by an estimated 15 percent.

Applying best practices from cement and integrated concrete operations, the company’s Plant Energy Team conducts presentations for customers on electrical rate structures and their complexities; checks air systems for leaks and false-air consumption; and, meters critical electrical loads, netting thermal images that demonstrate energy-saving opportunities. It stresses energy management, tracking, benchmarking and the use of Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Program resources, plus proactive equipment maintenance, repair and replacement.

The Plant A Star method stemmed from an early effort to reduce fuel consumption of mixer trucks in Roanoke Cement sister concrete operations. “Strive for Five” became a directive for drivers to cut ignition if truck idling was to exceed five minutes.

Reflecting on response and results from customers signing on to the free consulting and plant power audits, Roanoke Energy Champion Chris Bayne notes, “The trick is to be helpful and not meddle. Customers need to be able to apply this energy knowledge to their processes by themselves.” A consultant in energy management and LEED building practice, Bayne joined the company in 2008, his current title evolving from energy manager.

“Our Plant Energy Team recognized that businesses are struggling with increased burdens and need to address energy consumption to remain competitive,” says Roanoke Plant Manager Kevin Baird, noting that Plant A Star participants’ estimated energy consumption cuts would initially save enough electricity to power 150 households.

“Titan America is committed to use energy in the most efficient and cost-effective manner,” adds CEO Aris Papadopoulos. “We strive to improve environmental performance to lead energy management within the cement industry.”

As customers log savings from Plant A Star-rooted improvements, the Roanoke Troutville plant, Virginia’s only cement mill, has been awarded the EPA Energy Star for a fifth consecutive year, and is the industry’s first operation receiving such agency recognition for 2011. A cement plant can earn the label by achieving energy performance within the top 25 percent of peer operators nationally using the Energy Star scale.

“Titan America continues to lead by example,” says Energy Star Director of Industrial Sector Partnerships Elizabeth Dutrow. “Achieving a national level energy certification for its Virginia cement plant demonstrates leadership. But Roanoke Cement hasn’t stopped there. The company is reaching beyond what is expected to help others to achieve similar heights. Roanoke Cement’s ‘Plant A Star’ is a gold standard for cement manufacturers to emulate in helping their ready mixed producer customers improve energy performance.”