FIRST PLACE – CEMSTONE PRODUCTS COMPANY
COLUMBUS PLANT, COLUMBUS, MINNESOTA
Because of the proximity to Crossways Lake, it is important to be innovative in how we address environmental issues at the [Columbus] site,” says Cemstone Environmental and Safety Coordinator Alex Olin. “We continually strive to improve environmental performance not only at Columbus, but all of our locations.”
The Columbus Plant lies on the east side of the town’s main north-south thoroughfare. Concern for site aesthetics as the operation was being built started with Cemstone leaving intact a mature-tree line on the north side of the parcel, helping screen stockpiles from public view. Green space is sustained on the south and west sides for aesthetic purposes and stormwater management. The batch plant and silos are enclosed to improve curb appeal, while a large concrete sign at the entrance advertises the operation and screens a slump rack area from the roadway.
|The Columbus Plant is located on a marshy area leading to Crossways Lake. Much stormwater is channeled to the facility’s plants and grasses. A berm on the eastern edge of the property directs runoff to filtering, rip-rap outfall on the plot’s southeast corner.|
Central mixed concrete production limits dust from dumping dry products into the trucks, and dust collectors serve enclosed silos plus mixing and weighing points. Daily plant checks target air compressors, conveyor belts, admixture secondary containment and guards. Weekly checks include dust collectors, belt wipers and aggregate gates. Monthly inspections cover gear reducers and belt bolts.
Cemstone effects community relations through day-to-day activities and annual efforts. A smartphone-friendly web page affords neighbors and Columbus residents greater access to the plant’s environmental initiatives; customers or members of the public can leave feedback via a “contact us” section. On a lighter note, the producer sponsors HabiTrot 5k to support Habitat for Humanity, and has donated concrete to the organization’s building projects. The Columbus plant is also involved in the annual Columbiz meeting, which affords Cemstone representatives opportunity to update the city and neighboring businesses on plant activities, while also learning of upcoming special projects and charitable endeavors.
Cemstone has a $40 Environmental Management Fee on each load of concrete delivered, the proceeds earmarked for sustainable projects on the Columbus site and related staff development. An EMF fund has thus far supported investment in environmental infrastructure and treatment systems.
The Columbus Plant seeks to lower its carbon footprint by reducing portland cement content in mixes through slag cement and fly ash substitution. In a nod to water conservation, all stormwater is harvested on-site to irrigate the green spaces and trees on the property. The Columbus facility tracks power and water consumption among environmental metrics, laying the groundwork for future sustainable plant certification.
RUNNER-UP – CEMEX USA
COOLIDGE PLANT, COOLIDGE, ARIZONA
The site follows a sustainability management system Cemex initiated in 2007 with an eye to long-term business success through proactive environmental, social and economic measures. A standard Environmental Management System (EMS), key performance indicators and reporting, plus community engagement underpin the effort.
Within the company’s global management system, the Coolidge Plant monitors and provides annual information on KPI, derived from tools measuring factors like carbon dioxide emissions and overall carbon footprint. Cemex likewise has instituted a corporate Water Footprint Project, aimed at conservation measures across the global business. Like many sister operations in North America and beyond, the Coolidge Plant provides annual data water use and management practices, and is provided insight on water reduction and recycling opportunities.
|The plant area and office building parking lot are paved to promote air quality, water management and site aesthetics. Unpaved areas are treated on an as-needed basis with a dust suppressant, and continuously watered to control fugitive emissions. Regular cleaning of the site is performed, including street sweeping of all paved areas and entrance roads to control dust, emissions and vehicle track-out.|
Cemex is likewise committed to cost-effective and environmentally responsible use of energy. The Coolidge Plant participates in energy management programs, and monitors established metrics to compare to peer operations and relay data for enterprise-wide performance measurement. Cemex publishes targets and actual figures in an annual Sustainable Development Report for government officials, investors, employees, customers and the general public.
The Coolidge Plant commenced ready mixed production in September 2004, and has not been the subject of citizen complaint or a federal, state or local citation. Grounds, buildings, work space, equipment and aggregate material storage areas have been kept neat, clean and orderly. Site aesthetics and good housekeeping practices factor in a compensatory incentive program available to plant employees and hinging on results of unannounced management inspections.
The plant is bound by the (above-noted) Cemex EMS, designed according to the ISO 14001:2004 “Environmental Management System” Standard, thereby credible to internal and external parties. The EMS is organized into 12 elements, which provide a framework to facilitate consistent and systematic implementation of practical, risk-based management at all operations.
EMS features include an Environmental Center in the Coolidge Plant drivers’ room, which serves as a comprehensive employee information resource and awareness center. A large bulletin board displays regulatory requirement summaries; best management practices; spill response procedures and reporting requirements; emergency coordinator contacts; and, environmental awareness signs. The Center provides easily accessible and well-organized information for regulatory agency inspectors.
HONORABLE MENTION – DOLESE BROS. CO
ARDMORE BATCH PLANT, ARDMORE, OKLAHOMA
An Environmental Policy Statement details the Dolese Bros. commitment to maintaining excellence in all environmental affairs. It charges managers with conducting operations in full compliance with all laws and regulations; minimizing impacts on surrounding communities; training staff to recognize and respond to issues of concern; and, evaluating practices for continuous improvement.
Plant personnel are keenly aware that the Dolese Bros. environmental manager and/or a professional environmental engineer will visit at least once annually to review the entire site with a fine-toothed comb and determine if procedures are in full compliance with permits plus local, state and federal laws. During inspections, all environmental binder paperwork and forms are reviewed for completeness and accuracy. Corporate management is informed of any significant deficiencies identified during inspections.
Home office staff or environmental engineers visiting the Ardmore Plant find a compact operation whose clean look reflects the efforts of team members to keep the equipment and yard washed, painted and tidy. Officials knew upgrades were in order when Dolese Bros. acquired the site in 2003. Among significant improvements that ensued is yard pavement, placed in 10-ft. square grids “string-lined to perfection” by employees who were encouraged to “finish the concrete like it was their own driveway.” Other work included upgrades to silo dust collectors and related equipment installation at load points, plus a truck wash out system overhaul, which led to the placement of stone peninsulas—made of rip rap from the local Dolese quarry—enabling excavator access to the middle of a settling pit.
To address potential concerns of neighbors regarding a wash rack and surface settling pond, Dolese Bros. opted to build an elevated earthen berm around the perimeter, then install a security fence with locked gate. The appearance of an industrial-looking, main office building was improved with the construction of a planter using decorative, split-face retaining wall block from a sister masonry production line.
A more recent Ardmore Plant tweak entails returned-concrete management, the speed and volume of which have stepped up considerably with the addition of an old conveyor and small hopper (shown here) the plant manager acquired from a site neighbor. Dolese Bros. stewardship at Ardmore is reflected in the presence of birds, deer and other wildlife that continue to enjoy habitat on the site periphery.