U.S. Concrete, Inc., through its San Jose-based subsidiary Central Concrete Supply Co., has become one of the premier users of technology measuring and managing operations’ and supply chain water usage. A web-based analytics portal set for April launch will provide the ready mixed producer dashboards, charts, reports and supporting information that make up what San Francisco technology developer Climate Earth Inc. describes as “environmental intelligence.”
Water savings across material procurement and handling, mix production and delivery, plus fleet functions will be tied back to Central Concrete financial benchmarks and progress-tracking tools. Supply chain water management, Climate Earth notes, will identify water-intensive activities and—through large-scale data collection and impact calculation—support sustainability goal prioritizing and strategic procurement decisions.
“Data can relate water usage metrics to financial performance,” says Climate Earth CEO Chris Erickson. “Central Concrete management, for example, can look at gallons of water per dollar of sales or truck load. Water tracking gives users a perspective on these factors. Environmental measurement separate from financial reporting loses its essential value as a management tool to improve business performance.”
Seeking to quantify a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions factor from mix materials and production—and advance Houston parent company U.S. Concrete’s sustainability initiative—Central Concrete became the industry’s inaugural Climate Earth environmental business intelligence system user in 2009. “We believe this latest technology adoption to be another industry first, and a key stepping stone to begin reducing our product’s water footprint,” says Central Concrete V.P. and General Manager Jeff Davis. Our EF Technology® program promotes supplementary cementitious material usage across U.S. Concrete, he notes, and provides ready mixed or precast concrete customers tonnage figures for carbon dioxide emissions reduction attributable to portland cement substitution.
“Using Climate Earth’s tools, we will now start measuring our water usage—another area where we see ultimate customers calling for suppliers to document efficiency and reduced volume,” adds Davis. This month’s site launch will enable Climate Earth to determine a baseline measurement of water usage in Central Concrete’s operations, plus consumption tied to raw materials production and transport to ready mixed plants.
Water figures have the potential to be applied in a manner similar to CO2 emissions.
Central Concrete uses the Climate Earth program to chart carbon intensity from materials and operations per dollar of sales at each of its 14 plants. “Carbon is energy, and energy is efficiency,” says Erickson. “Carbon becomes a new lens for viewing efficiency. Water will be the same way.”
In a January 2011 white paper, “Quantifying Direct and Supply Chain Water Use for Enterprises,” Climate Earth scientists cite interest among corporations, consumers and regulatory agencies in measuring and disclosing organizations’ impact on water resources. Among factors compelling measurement, authors add, are “business risks associated with global, national or local water scarcity, an interest in maintaining or enhancing a company’s reputation, and regulatory or financial disclosure requirements.”
Central Concrete turned to Climate Earth in response to requests for carbon accounting measures for project submittals from northern California general contractor Webcor Builders. “Sustainability is a major issue with building designers and their clients,” affirms Davis. “As our ultimate customers, they are looking for both companies and products that focus on sustainability. Through the use of our EF Technology, we tackled the CO2 emissions reduction issue first and demonstrated the significant impact a ready mixed producer can have on lowering carbon tied to delivered concrete.”
“Owners are more attuned to the environmental impact of new buildings and renovation projects,” adds Erickson. “Lower impact building designs and materials are the future of the industry.”
Among Davis’ colleagues testing that projection are Dave Perry, vice president of Marketing & Sales, who has spearheaded Central Concrete’s EF Technology development and promotion, and recently appointed Ken Nigro, manager of Business Development, responsible for specification sales and working with architects and engineers—plus contractors like Webcor Builders—who link sustainability measures to procurement.