Commitment to Environmental Excellence Awards

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association Commitment to Environmental Excellence Awards recognize sound operating practices and outstanding contributions to protecting the environment. Now in its 23rd year, the program salutes producer members that have surpassed governmental compliance requirements and demonstrated environmental commitment through plant and staff investment.


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Competition entries were reviewed by a panel of judges based on image galleries and written narrative covering site aesthetics, environmental documentation, training, air quality and water management, returned concrete plan, community relations, ready mixed delivery, and plant sustainability practices. The NRMCA Safety, Environmental and Operations Committee-administered program awards members in Eastern, Central and Western U.S. regions.

“These plants demonstrate that they are the ‘best of the best’ when it comes to being good stewards of the environment,” affirms NRMCA Executive Vice President, Compliance and Operations Gary Mullings.

NRMCA honored 2018 Commitment to Environmental Excellence Award recipients last month during the ConcreteWorks Conference outside Washington, D.C. As a program co-sponsor, Concrete Products salutes the 10 plants and their owners.






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Always top of mind at the Division Plant, recycling measures are especially evident in process or storm water containment, treatment and use; and, strong embrace of supplementary cementitious materials, where concrete mix designs can have fly ash or slag cement at 30 percent to 50 percent factors.


The Orlando plant has batched and delivered thousands of yards of branded pervious concrete mixes. Preferred Materials promotes the value-added product as an alternative to impermeable pavement.

Dubbed “Tiny but Mighty,” the busy but tidy Division Plant is located in a heavy industrial area strategic to downtown Orlando. Team members wise to housekeeping and company image abide the 5S program (Sort, Simplify, Sweep, Standardize and Self-Discipline) with the aim of surpassing compliance measures and management expectations for facility upkeep.

Along with copies of permits, inspection reports and training logs, the plant keeps an Environmental Book and 5S board displaying a “Sweep Log Sheet.” They foster best management practices, accountability and teamwork. Additionally, Preferred Materials has an Environmental Stewardship and Social Responsibility Guidance Document, along with records retention program. Both are introduced at onboarding and covered once a year in the producer’s Green Alert emails.

Daily Division Plant procedures ensure a high-quality concrete mix; help reduce the possibility of lost loads; and, increase accuracy in mix water volumes and aggregate sprinkling. They likewise streamline resource consumption while improving water, aggregate and returned concrete management.

Under an Inspections and Audit program, Preferred Materials tasks qualified personnel to conduct monthly reviews of best management practices, spill prevention measures and 5S program compliance. Each inspection affords team members an opportunity to suggest changes to minimize environmental footprint and improve operations. New managers attend a three-hour training program covering environmental stewardship; good neighbor policy; storm and waste water management; spill and air pollution prevention; waste handling and disposal; and, hazcom.

Preferred Materials’ quarterly Star Program, launched in 2015, recognizes employees who demonstrate qualities of 1) Good People–Quality, safety, reliability; 2) Smart, Proactive Partners–Sharing national best practices; and, 3) Community-minded–Company team members share time and talent to make the community where they live a better place.






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Aggregate Industries Mid-Atlantic Region team members gather once a year for training or refresher sessions covering safety and environmental management.



Topography yielded an efficient process water management system at Rockville East RMX, culminating in a custom pH treatment structure (left, top). A 6,000-gal. liquid nitrogen tank (above) is tapped to cool aggregate. The gas eliminates the ice packaging waste, along with physical labor and potential injuries, and expedites concrete batching.

A transit mixed operation on a well kept, four-acre site in a industrial zoned area, Rockville East RMX averages 400 yd. of concrete daily, and offers special night pour production as customers require.

Aggregate Industries designates a Site Environmental Representative for ready mixed operations. He or she is responsible for ensuring day-to-day environmental compliance, monitoring, and record-keeping. All concrete site employees and mixer drivers undergo environmental compliance training.

Rockville East RMX site engineers tailored a 10-step water quality settling control system, anchored by a storage vault intercepting all water from the property. Safety grating protects team members and filters solids before entering the vessel, all water from which is processed through a treatment system prior to discharge.

Water treatment is part of a comprehensive Rockville East RMX environmental management system, organized and managed through the Envoy database containing all records, permits, plans and audits, plus training documentation. Authorized personnel can access the EMS through log-in credentials; site staff keeps hard copies of permits and records for local inspectors.

Rockville East team members support Aggregate Industries’ extensive Corporate Social Responsibility program. In the last year, Mid-Atlantic Region staff has donated more than $32,000 in cash, $56,000 worth of materials and over 400 work hours to worthy causes.




Proximity (< 1,000 feet) to company headquarters keeps the Waugh Chapel Plant at the center of environmental management practices—carbon dioxide-based pH process water adjustment among them.


Community outreach sees plant staff hosting tours for students in all grades. Staff reviews the entire concrete production cycle, from the aggregate extraction to project site delivery.



Because of its high visibility in the company, steps from the Chaney Enterprises headquarters, the Waugh Chapel Plant is an ideal proving ground for best environmental practices. Team members take a very active role in testing new methods and equipment while maintaining established environmental compliance routines. The latter include daily visual inspections of the site and water treatment systems, plus twice a day recording of process water pH levels. All Chaney Enterprises employees receive annual environmental training, along with site-specific ‘hands on’ instruction throughout the year.

To reduce environmental impact as much as possible, the Waugh Chapel plant is graded so that all process water ends up in treatment basins and available for recycling in mixer drum washout and concrete batching. Since implementing water recycling policies, staff has dramatically reduced the volume of process water discharges.

The plant uses gray water as much as possible: Pumps in a third settling basin convey water to the drum wash stand pipe and batch plant. Settled water is likewise used for yard dust suppression, augmenting a vacuum dust collection system curtailing fugitive emissions during truck loading. All waste concrete returned to the Waugh Chapel Plant is delivered directly to a crusher for recycling and reuse.




Cemstone mixer trucks’ on-board washout systems allow all water to be pumped back to the drum while filtering out sand and rock. Trucks are also equipped with spill kits for which drivers are trained; as a result, Cemstone can dispatch loads to environmentally sensitive areas such at the St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam.


Cemstone operates the plant with the same good neighbor mind set as its other, less urban sites. A recently installed, 190,000-gal. runoff storage system will supply cool water to lower the temperature of recycled water contained in the main plant weir. The Minneapolis plant currently uses recycled water for 30 percent of batching requirements. Team members use hydrometers for gray water sample testing.




The site is part of an industrial area along the Mississippi River in north Minneapolis. Cemstone erected a decorative precast concrete perimeter wall to mitigate noise and shield a neighboring condominium development from view of the operation.

An enclosed weir system handles process water year-round. In addition to washing mixer drums, recycled water from the system is also used in batching of fresh concrete. Quality control measures in the recycling loop include testing of gray water samples in hydrometers.

Another source for truck washing and concrete batching is new: A 190,000-gallon stormwater harvesting system installed underneath aggregate stockpiles. Cemstone partnered with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization to devise a system capable of impounding all site runoff equivalent to a 10-year, 24-hour storm event. The harvesting plan makes it possible for the producer to temper the warmer weir water with up to 1.8 million gallons per year of cooler water.

Cemstone – Minneapolis water consumption, energy and fuel use, plus other environmental metrics are tracked electronically. Employees are trained to measure and record such numbers, alongside annual instruction on SWPPP contents, proper fueling technique and spill response procedures. All silos have baghouses and the enclosed plant is equipped with a fugitive dust collector. Each day the plant operates, a visible check is performed on seven possible emission sources; corrective action follows observance of any breaches. A majority of the site is paved to minimize dusting and tracking. Paved areas are swept three times a week.




Powered partly by wind-derived energy from Black Hills Power turbines, the batch plant is designed to sit below grade from one side and placed behind a larger office structure to further reduce surrounding area impact. Pete Lien & Sons team members plant upward of 1,000 trees annually in a nearby area.




The plant lies along the foothills of the Black Hills, known for fishing, scenery and bustling seasonal tourism. A decorative block wall, greenscaping and office building minimize equipment and site visibility. The building color scheme blends with the rest of the environment; daily housekeeping of the plant facility and lot further improves aesthetics. Production area pavement is scraped and swept regularly, and a water truck passes unpaved areas.

Aggregate stockpiles are placed to reduce Ready Mix West plant noise, while employees use hand-held radios rather than communicate through a yard loudspeaker. Backup alarms have been upgraded to reduce the decibels and limit sound direction, yet maintain their safety function. Lighting is oriented for directional and downward dispersion to reduce light pollution.

Pete Lien & Sons has assembled a cross functional team of management, site supervision, sales, purchasing, maintenance, human resources, engineering, environmental, quality control, and driver personnel to weigh progress and potential within an environmental review cycle framework. A corporate site inspection program entails visits to Ready Mix West and sister operations at least annually. Audits are documented, with action items and opportunities for improvement placed in an electronic workbook and evaluated for risk potential, training effectiveness, and frequency. Audits encompass air permit, SPCC, SWPPP performance, waste management, general housekeeping, sustainability practices, local ordinances, chemical storage, and other environmentally pertinent programs and recordkeeping. Regulatory agencies, vendors, subject matter experts, manufacturers, and consultants are frequently enlisted to train and provide updates to technology or practices for all impacted employees.

Pete Lien & Sons trains all delivery professionals to return excess concrete for use in a) casting blocks that are stacked in aggregate stockpile areas or sold to outside parties; or b) plant and employee parking lot pavements. Drivers are also instructed to wash out either at the plant or on site in a contractor-designated containment vessel.

The Ready Mix West plant diverts process water to a series of containment structures. Drivers recycle water from the final structure in truck wash down and makeup dosing. The plant operates on a closed loop system, so no process water is discharged into the city treatment works or natural waterways. Berms and dikes separate process and storm water; a pond containing the latter is tapped for dust control and maintaining green space surrounding the plant.






A fence, coupled with generous landscaping and an irrigation system along northern, eastern and southern property lines, improve Celina operation views.


An anti-idling policy cuts truck and loader emissions.



An entrance rich in water-wise vegetation is the most prominent indicator of Martin Marietta’s commitment to being a good neighbor to the City of Celina and surrounding communities.

That commitment carries past the gate with maintenance routines that include twice weekly rotary sweeper and sweeper vacuum truck passes to help control dust emissions. A plant supervisor tracks daily housekeeping activities, monthly environmental inspections, dust abatement device maintenance, and quarterly reports. A Corporate Environmental Representative visits the Celina site at least once a quarter and oversees an internal environmental audit every three years. All records are kept on site so governing agencies can easily check documentation attending permit compliance inspections.

Environmental Representatives conduct annual training sessions with all plant personnel and mixer truck drivers. They address water and air quality measures, return concrete management, job site rinsing, truck refueling, and SPCC guidelines. Representatives also engage plant supervisors in annual training for water sampling, including the proper way of collecting, storing, and shipping samples, plus pH meter calibration and chain of custody paperwork.

Mixer drivers wash trucks prior to leaving the plant, and are instructed to rinse out on site when possible. During annual training, they are advised to inspect site washout areas prior to rinsing drums and chutes, and check if the closest storm drain is uphill or downhill from the washout area. Mixes returned to the Celina plant are placed in roll off bins, then transferred to Big City Concrete for crushing and recycling as road base.

The plant is equipped to recycle water to cut down discharges. Process water breaching a pit system flows into a series of three settling ponds. Settled water is recycled for dust suppression at the adjacent Martin Marietta Celina Rail Terminal. The plant averages 1.5 process water discharges per year, typically during rainy spring months when ponds overflow. Water samples have never been out of compliance.





Community involvement is a CalPortland Newberg priority, illustrated here by participation in a Fourth of July parade.


Production and vehicle trafficking are confined to the smallest footprint possible at the Newberg site. Unpaved areas are vegetated and reserved as green space. Water retention and vegetation allow for solids to settle and collect within the detention feature.




A well landscaped bio-swale borders the site entrance, providing water treatment in addition to its aesthetic function. Beyond, the office building and surrounding stormwater containment area are kept clean and in excellent condition.

Environmental review teams of Newberg and sister CalPortland site staff periodically examine the plant’s physical condition and record keeping. Participation from outside colleagues lends eyes to the Newberg operation and helps identify potential problems that everyday personnel might overlook.

Apparent to the environmental review team is the consistent performance of a paved and graded process water area. At close of business, all production material is washed into the settling cells above. Once the area is cleaned, and process and truck wash water are fully contained, storm water is diverted to a detention pond, which significantly decreases the site’s process-water volume.

Environmental management at Newberg spans all wet/liquid or dry material storage and handling: Admixture tanks lie in secondary containment structures amid the process water zone. Mixer trucks are parked in assigned spots to easily identify and repair leaking equipment. Any leaks are cleaned up with spill kits readily available for drivers and plant staff. Aggregate piles and unpaved roads are wet down throughout the day to control fugitive dust emissions. Returned concrete that cannot be re-batched is used in concrete block production. Any concrete that can’t be used in blocks is discharged into a reclaimer for fine and coarse aggregate recovery.

Reduction of environmental impacts on Newberg customer sites begins at the plant with daily pre-trip truck inspection. Drivers especially look for leaks, wear on hoses and spill kits. CalPortland recognizes preventative maintenance as key to both equipment life cycle and reducing hydraulic fluid and oil spills in the field.





The San Francisco operation’s three batch plants are charged by 175-ton and 225-ton fly ash (delivery shown here) and slag cement silos. The use of supplementary cementitious materials helps Central Concrete live up to a motto, “Stronger. Cleaner. Greener.”


Dust control logs reflect weekly visual observations and any emissions abatement equipment repairs.


Water management and pollution control pervade California ready mixed operations. The Shumaker Load and Go automated truck wash system netted Central Concrete San Francisco an estimated 200,000 gallons of fresh water savings in 2017, thanks to 30- to 40-second cycle settings and nozzle-optimized flows.



“First impressions are the most lasting” … Central Concrete team members take the saying to heart as they tend to an operation with three batch plants, an upgraded mixer fleet, and entrance sporting custom stainless steel signage, eucalyptus trees and hedges.

Concern for site upkeep and aesthetics is matched in adherence to an Environmental Management System, widely accepted as crucial to staying in compliance with all regulatory agency guidelines and abiding five Environmental Policy keys: Meet or exceed governmental requirements; Empower employees; Strive to reduce the environmental impact of operations; Review and improve practices; and, Be responsible stewards.

In addition to having the entire EMS organized by binders and loaded on a secure network, Central Concrete managers also train every employee on each part of the system within 30 days of being hired, and once yearly afterward. This mes system compliance each team member’s responsibility, and helps Central Concrete Supply to continue to be an environmental leader in the Bay Area and ready mixed concrete industry.

Recognizing process water volume tied to truck washdown, for example, the producer installed an automated system. The Load and Go (bottom photo, right) decreases the amount of water outbound trucks consume and time it takes for the drivers to leave the yard, and reduces injuries associated with climbing up and down ladders during traditional wash down procedures. The equipment is calibrated to spray mixers 30-40 seconds and uses 15-20 gallons less per truck compared to manual methods. Time savings of 2.5 minutes per load realized at the San Francisco plant spells lower truck emissions and fuel consumption, plus shorter ready mixed delivery times.

Air quality is taken very seriously at the San Francisco plant and sister locations. Employees specially trained to inspect, diagnose and perform repairs keep dust control equipment logs. Inspectors reviewing the logs to note preventative maintenance measures and repairs that ensure emissions devices are running effectively.

To address state regulator-rooted customer concerns on another pollution control front, Central Concrete mixer drivers deploy EnviroGuard Chute rinse systems to ensure they do not leave any process water or excess concrete at a job site.






Drivers keep trucks clean, knowing their drums are rolling Pete Lien & Sons billboards. Drums bear alternating colored tick marks so drivers can easily verify rotation direction and avoid accidental discharge.

Plant is nestled in a mountain community known for expansive vistas and pristine meadows below towering peaks. A decorative block wall and architectural enclosure treatments limit plant site and equipment visibility for the Steamboat Springs community.

Consistent with Pete Lien & Sons’ environmental management strategies, the operation is configured to capture, settle and recycle process water, thus eliminating municipal sewer or natural waterway discharges. The Steamboat Springs Ready Mix plant continually recycles all settled process water used in truck wash down. Drivers are trained to clean their mixers as quickly as possible to limit water returned to the recycling loop.

Dikes and berms are situated to route storm water to a dedicated retention pond and eliminate process water commingling. In addition, a sand filter is used to capture runoff from block storage before discharge to a nearby retention pond through a culvert.

Steamboat Springs plant storm water management, air permit and spill prevention plans are reviewed, updated if required, and certified by a division manager following full review with a senior supervisor. Any changes to plans or environmental management procedures are then communicated to the appropriate employees through training events. In addition to training required by air and storm water discharge permits, the Steamboat Springs plant has also incorporated environmental measures into safety training for job tasks. SWPPP, chemical and hazardous material management are covered annually. Such training includes how to read a safety data sheet and the new global harmonization version of such documents; fuel loading and unloading procedures; and, how to respond to and report spills.

Formal training conducted at Steamboat Springs can utilize different methods that include quizzes or interactive demonstrations to measure knowledge and competency. After every session, employees are presented with an evaluation or survey form; five to 10 questions allow them to critique training and suggest content, format, or method of delivery improvements. The approach has proved effective in working with team members who are not comfortable speaking or asking questions in a large group setting. All Pete Lien & Sons sites or individuals recognized for environmental performance are acknowledged personally by their supervisor and/or corporate management and through press releases or the company newsletter.






Just shy of six decades in operation, the West plant has grown along with the City of Charlotte. The high profile site compels extra diligence in emissions control, as indicated in dedicated baghouses for each of the batch plant’s five cementitious material silos, plus a dust collector serving the mixer truck alley. Concrete Supply is a charter supporter of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association-backed Build With Strength coalition.




Construction began in 2017 to update the West operation, which is buffered by a mature tree line that improves the property’s appearance and acts as a dust barrier. A larger batch plant and redesign of yard layout accommodate higher ready mixed output along with increased process and storm water volumes. Process water from the batch plant and mixer wash down areas is directed to either a wash pit system or separate holding bay. Once settled out, the water is recycled back into the plant to be used in concrete production or to flush out mixer drums. In addition to recycling efforts, Concrete Supply has installed a water spray station that removes loose material on outbound mixer trucks. The equipment reduces the amount of water consumed in traditional wash down methods.

The plant manager and two batchmen handle housekeeping duties and ensure that water is directed to the proper holding bays and the recycling system functions properly. They also conduct routine air, stormwater collection and underground storage tank inspections. New employees undergo environmental management training during orientation, then participate in staff-wide annual sessions on compliance measures and plant upkeep.

Mixer drivers are instructed to report incidences of contractors’ improper washout material disposal and ensure correct documentation of such action. The Charlotte West site’s long, narrow configuration limits room for Concrete Supply to manage returned concrete. Any returned load of one-quarter yard or more is hardened and transferred to a local crushing facility. Smaller returned volumes are conveyed to a wash pit system, fines from which are dried and taken to the recycling facility for blending with crushed stock.