American Concrete, R.W. Sidley expand NRMCA Green-Star map into Iowa, Ohio

As the certification program neared three years of successful plant audits across the industry, Des Moines-based American Concrete Products, Inc., an Oldcastle Materials company, announced in May that its Webster City facility was the first National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) Green-Star plant in Iowa. The first Oldcastle brand with Green-Star certification, American Concrete has brought eight additional properties under the program, and plans to complete audits for its remaining ready mixed sites by year’s end.

Speakers at a Webster City ceremony included Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, plus NRMCA and Iowa Ready Mixed Concrete Association (IRMCA) staff. After raising the Green-Star flag, a facility tour was given to demonstrate many sustainable improvements, with a cookout capping festivities. “The distinction of being the first plant in the state is very significant to serve as an example for other concrete producers in the program for environmental excellence. I congratulate American Concrete on this achievement and look forward to their expansion of the Green-Star program,” said NRMCA President Bob Garbini.

American Concrete’s other certified plants are located in Algona, Gilmore City, Storm Lake, West Des Moines, Winterset, Creston, Atlantic and Clarinda. “Our goal is to have all locations Green-Star certified by the end of 2011 and begin the process of obtaining the Platinum Plant Sustainability certification for all of our operations,” said General Manager Chris West. “My goal with Green-Star is to change the perception of the ready mixed industry. The certifications show that our industry can and will be environmentally responsible, and provide good clean jobs for all of our employees.”

“The example American Concrete has set is a reflection of Iowa’s concrete culture,” added IRMCA Associate Director John Cunningham. “We’re an industry that produces a material with many naturally sustainable benefits, [and are] committed to enhancing the methods of production that will yield even more benefits to the environment.”

Leading the Green-Star audits and certification of American Concrete plants are Kyle Huffman, West Regional Operations Manager, and Sarah Campbell, Assistant Quality Control Manger, both graduates of the Middle Tennessee State University’s Concrete Industry Management degree program. For certification, a candidate plant’s Environmental Management System (EMS), itself a continuous improvement process, must have gone through at least one cycle consisting of three months, although the (program-administering) NRMCA Operations, Environmental and Safety Committee prefers six months.

At American Concrete, the typical turnaround time per plant has been three to six months, with continued progress tracking once NRCMA affirms a specific plant’s certification. Green-Star audits force the parties involved (mixer drivers, loader operators, plant and operation managers, dispatch and sales staff) to question how everyday actions affect the environment. Can lights be turned off while the sunshine provides all the light needed in an office? Can paper that is no longer needed be recycled? Are aggregate belts covered so that dust is not emitted into the air? Is stormwater runoff controlled so that it does not encroach on other people’s property? Does the company’s truck-idling policy help minimize carbon footprint? American Concrete leadership hopes its Green-Star certification efforts inspire other Oldcastle Materials companies to follow.

NRMCA launched Green-Star in February 2008, with Transit Mix Concrete & Materials, Seven Points, Texas, becoming the inaugural certified plant in July. The program is a plant-specific certification that uses EMS as a tool for benchmarking and continual improvement, and as a means to recognize those who adhere to essential principals of the industry’s environmental and sustainability movement. The EMS is based on practices widely recognized throughout the industry and government for spelling out goals and targets. Green-Star has grown to 226 plants (of the approximately 5,000 nationwide) in 30 states; two overseas operations have also completed certification audits.

Ohio captures first Green-Star designation with R.W. Sidley plant

In early August, R.W. Sidley’s North Canton, Ohio ready mixed plant marked the first NRMCA Green-Star certified facility in the state with a flag-raising on the property. Company Safety & Environmental Manager Bob Roberti became a Green-Star auditor and oversaw the six-month process of getting North Canton certified. The plant was built shortly after World War II and purchased by R.W. Sidley in 2000. In 2007, the company replaced the existing plant.

With the Green River plant Green-Star certified, the company plans to do the same—one plant at a time—for its remaining 11 facilities in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania, with an expected three- to four-month certification time frame per plant.