Lafarge Canada at Environmental Building Declaration forefront

Posting embodied resource and energy performance data for public reference, Lafarge Canada’s new Innovation Hub in Edmonton is one of the first North American projects bearing an Environmental NS-Lafarge-400Building Declaration (EBD). The Innovation Hub opened in March with 10 full-time employees. It can accommodate up to 25 for training and meeting purposes.

Ottawa, Ontario-based Athena Sustainable Materials Institute measured the building footprint using life cycle assessment (LCA) methods to create a document with environmental footprint data about the building—similar to the nutrition label on food packaging. Lafarge supports the use of LCA to measure the environmental footprint of products and buildings, viewing it as a mechanism to keep the organization accountable and find ways to reduce the footprint of the built environment.

“Lafarge recently built a LEED Platinum NetZero Energy Precast Concrete Duplex in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity. For our own Hub we wanted to go even further on sustainability leadership by using LCA to document and share our footprint,” say Lafarge Vice President, Edmonton Federico Tonetti.

“Lafarge is setting a great example for building owners and designers” says Athena President Jennifer O’Connor. “In using LCA to transparently disclose the environmental performance of their new building, they’re extending the concrete industry’s commitment to sustainability right through the value chain.”

Lafarge built the Innovation Hub with precast, insulated sandwich wall panels fabricated at its Edmonton operation.

The 15,000-sq.-ft. Hub is constructed of precast concrete, providing a highly efficient building envelope. The insulated sandwich panels—produced at Lafarge’s Edmonton precast plant, and measuring 12 in. x 10 ft. x 29 ft. 3 in.—eliminate thermal bridges and, when combined with an intelligent building management system, deliver strong energy performance. The building houses a laboratory on the first level, where radiant in-floor heating combined with a south elevation design keep materials experts warm and working in natural light.

The Hub is a showplace for other sustainable materials, like concrete floors incorporating reflective white pigment and concrete walls to engage thermal mass. The polished concrete floors are low maintenance and eliminate the need for floor coverings or paint, keeping VOCs down for a healthy work environment. Consistent with typical precast concrete buildings, the Hub exhibits open architecture with long clear spans, allowing the facility to be repurposed or even disassembled and reassembled at another location. Considering the building’s full life cycle, at a minimum the concrete could be crushed and reused at end of life.

The Hub was built on a current Lafarge industrial site requiring no further development of the area. Process and storm water are managed across the site via a reclamation system. In the Hub’s parking lot, Lafarge’s decorative concrete has been employed.

Well beyond the laboratory function, the building is slated for use as a construction community hub by post-secondary students as well as associations and local project teams. “Brainstorming about innovative materials application in building and infrastructure construction will occupy the second floor of the Hub, while the ideas can be readily tested downstairs in our lab,” Tonetti observes.

Lafarge ‘bows’ to cleaner air, water recycling

The Lafarge Canada Inc. cement plant in Exshaw, Alberta, has met targets to reduce an existing kiln’s sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen emissions, respectively, by 60 percent and 40 percent. Attainment of the new environmental operating benchmarks at the mill, located along the Bow River north of Calgary, dovetails new kiln construction increasing production capacity 60 percent.   

Stepped up environmental stewardship befits a mill boasting one of the most scenic backdrops in North American cement production.

Embarking on the existing kiln’s $20 million dust and noise abatement investments, “We promise[d] customers and neighbors we would improve our environmental footprint,” says Bob Cooper, vice president Western Canada Cement, Lafarge. “We’ve taken the first major step to reduce SO2, NOx and kiln particulate matter. We are now recycling all of our cooling water, which means no discharge back to the Bow River.”

Exiting Exshaw line investment supports Lafarge’s Sustainability Ambitions for 2020 targeting manufacturing practices that improve the environment in and around its operations. Construction of the new kiln is scheduled for mid-2015 completion. The economic impact of the mill’s increased production and GDP of Alberta is estimated at $800 million annually.