Six cement plants received special recognition for their commitment to improving the environment and their communities at the 14th Annual Cement Industry Environment and Energy Awards, presented by the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and Cement Americas magazine at PCA's Fall Meeting in Chicago.
The awards honor individual cement facilities that exemplify the spirit of continuous environmental improvement and support this spirit with action. These plants went beyond government regulations and local laws to ensure that their processes and policies contributed to making their communities better places to live and work.
“Although it is one of the most highly regulated industry sectors in the North America, cement companies are consistently challenging manufacturing policies and procedures and are on the forefront of new technologies to make their plants more energy efficient and to become better stewards of the land and resources,” said Cary Cohrs, chairman of the PCA Board of Directors. “Making a quality product is not enough. These and other cement companies take extra steps to ensure their communities are excellent places to work, live and learn.”
Six categories recognized plants throughout the United States: Overall Environmental Excellence, Outreach, Environmental Performance, Land Stewardship, Innovation and Energy Efficiency. Twenty-one North American cement plants were nominated for the awards.
The awards program was created in 2000 by the Portland Cement Association as part of its environment and energy strategic plan for the U.S. cement industry. The awards honor activities conducted during the previous calendar year, and the program is open to any cement manufacturing plant in North America. Judges for the 2013 awards program included representatives from U.S. EPA-Energy Star, Wildlife Habitat Council, U.S. Geological Survey, World Wildlife Fund, and Cement Americas.
OVERALL ENVIRONMENTAL EXCELLENCE
Winner: Titan America LLC, Roanoke Cement Co., Troutville, Va.
The Overall Environmental Excellence Award recognizes a cement facility that demonstrates excellence in several or each of the judged categories. The Roanoke Cement Co. Troutville cement plant was also a runner-up in the Outreach category, which recognizes facilities that strive to enhance community, employee, and government relations through innovative communications and programs.
The Troutville plant had several accomplishments throughout the year that resulted in positive changes to the land on and around the plant. In June 2013, the plant announced that it had received U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star certification for the seventh consecutive year. The award recognizes that the facility performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide. It was also recognized for their commendable wildlife habitat management and environmental education programs by The Wildlife Council’s Corporate Wildlife Habitat Certification/International Accreditation Program.
With the expansion of the plant’s east limestone quarry the Troutville facility allotted 98 acres of its land as a riparian buffer, to enhance and preserve the Catawba Creek water quality. Along with constructing two miles of cattle exclusion fencing 200 ft. from the bank, and localized stream bank grading to the original contour of the land, more than 16,000 native shrub and trees will be planted on a two-mile stretch of the creek. Additionally, for the past eight years the Troutville plant has dedicated a Catawba Creek Clean Up day for collecting and disposing of waste collected around the stream.
The Troutville plant understands and embraces its obligation to continuously lower energy consumption as it endeavors to be leaders in sustainability and environmental stewardship within the cement industry. Initiatives for achieving future energy reductions include: reducing or eliminating the use of inefficient or unnecessary lighting, maximizing the use of alternative fuels and targeting other cooling fans as candidates for VFD upgrades.
OVERALL ENVIRONMENTAL EXCELLENCE
Runner Up: Lehigh Hanson Inc., Union Bridge, Md.
The Lehigh Cement Co. Union Bridge plant is also the winner of the Environmental Performance Award (see pg. XX) and a runner up for the Energy Efficiency Award. As part of a voluntary initiative developed with the Maryland Department of the Environment, the plant developed an accelerated plan mercury emission compliance plant that would protect and enhance the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. In addition, the plant participated in a worldwide initiative to increase its use of biomass fuels.
OVERALL ENVIRONMENTAL EXCELLENCE
Finalist: Lafarge North America, Alpena, Mich.
In addition to being the finalist in the Overall Environmental Excellence category, the Alpena plant was a runner-up for the Land Stewardship category as well as a finalist in the Outreach and Energy Efficiency categories.
The Alpena plant continues to improve and expand the wildlife habitat project surrounding the former Paxton shale quarry area, which includes about 600 acres in total with a 120-acre lake. Plant personnel, in partnership with volunteers from various local schools and organizations, perform numerous projects including the bird nesting box project. The goal is to return this area to its natural state and enhance the living conditions for area wildlife while providing educational opportunities to students, groups and organizations.
The plant enhanced its curriculum and included additional grade levels for its “Education That WORKS!” program and once again took it to all elementary schools in Alpena County in 2013. The program is designed to inform students of Michigan’s rock and mineral resources and ultimately, to present the cement manufacturing process to the community’s grade school children.
In 2013, the Alpena plant produced 85 percent of its own electrical needs. By producing most of its own power in 2013, the plant reduced its potential carbon footprint by approximately 100,000 tons of CO2.
Winner: Mitsubishi Cement Corp., Lucerne Valley, Calif.
The Outreach award recognizes facilities that strive to enhance community, employee and government relations through innovative communications and programs. The Lucerne Valley plant participated in and initiated a number of outreach activities over the course of 2013 including a STEM Education tour featuring the importance of science, technology and math education. Employees presented to “at-risk” students from Big Bear High School on how they use basic disciplines to do their jobs and solve problems.
The Mitsubishi Cement Corp. (MCC) also contributed more than $60,000 directly to local schools and more than $200,000 to other local charities through fundraisers, events and tours. During 2013 there were 16 tours totaling 226 people – the largest were from local schools. MCC accepted more than 2 million waste tires, which were utilized as alternate fuel. Employees also participated in the Lucerne Valley July 4th parade, Tour de Big Bear bicycle ride, Lucerne Valley Tailgate Trick-or-Treat event and the “Ride in the Rocks” fundraiser for the MCC Educational Foundation.
Finalist: Titan America LLC, Pennusco Complex, Medley, Fla.
Titan America is readily involved with the local community. Titan America’s Pennsuco plant turned its environmental and social concerns to breast cancer awareness in October 2013 by painting part of its plant in pink (Titan America’s Pennsuco Goes ‘Pink,’ Cement Americas, Winter 2014, p. 2-3). Site tours are offered to high school and college students where they have an opportunity to view the littoral shelf and wading birds area of the Pennsuco campus. Off-site presentations are often conducted as well.
In November 2013, the plant was recognized for their contributions to conservation education at the Wildlife Habitat Council’s 25th Annual Symposium, Celebrating Corporate Conservation. Titan America demonstrated its continued commitment to environmental stewardship by achieving Corporate Lands for Learning certification at the Pennsuco Complex.
Titan America’s Roanoke Cement Co. Troutville plant and Cemex USA’s Knoxville plant. Cemex USA’s Miami plant and Lafarge North America’s Alpena plant were also finalists.
Winner: Lehigh Hanson Inc., Union Bridge, Md.
The Environmental Performance Award honors facilities that take steps beyond those contained in environmental laws, regulations, permits and requirements to minimize their impact on the environment. The Union Bridge plant was also a runner up for the energy efficiency, innovation, land stewardship and overall environmental excellence categories.
Lehigh Hanson implemented a mercury reduction program at its Union Bridge plant as part of a voluntary effort to protect and enhance the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The program will help the plant meet new national emission regulatory limits.
In 2013, the Union Bridge plant reduced the amount of coal burned in the kiln and calciner with greenhouse gas neutral dried biosolids. The plant avoided using 57,000 metric tons of a naturally occurring fossil fuel and replaced it with a renewable biomass material.
Runner Up: Cemex USA, Brooksville South, Brooksville, Fla.
In 2013, the Brooksville plant attended monthly Groundwater Guardian meetings hosted by the Hernando County Water Utility along with county representatives, consultants and the general public. Water use and conservation topics are discussed to educate the public about protecting water resources. The plant also sponsored the “Your water, Your World” event hosted by the Hernando County Utilities Department. Additionally in 2013, Cemex signed the Cemex Water Policy, which defines the strategy for responsible water management, and acts as a framework for the development of local water conservation and efficiency strategies across Cemex operations worldwide.
The Cemex Brooksville plant replaced 16,078 tons of coal by consuming more than 24,500 tons of alternative fuels. The plant achieved an 18.8 percent alternative fuel substitution rate, thus reducing the site's CO2 footprint, and conserving natural resources for the future.
Finalist: Cemex USA, Odessa, Texas
The Odessa plant designed and constructed a completely enclosed clinker storage system that includes three clinker silos. The new clinker silos were built in order to reduce the exposure of clinker to the wind and weather. The multi-million dollar construction of the clinker storage silos goes above and beyond current environmental regulations. With these new clinker silos, Cemex hopes to reduce approximately seven tons of permitted particulate matter emissions per year.
Additionally, the plant replaced their old baghouse with one that uses modern technology, using pulse jets and negative pressure with modern fabric filters and a stack vent to enhance dust control practices.
St. Marys Cement’s Charlevoix, Mich., plant was also a runner up for the Environmental Performance Award. The plant won the Land Stewardship Award.
Winner: St Marys Cement, Charlevoix, Mich.
The Land Stewardship category recognizes efforts to protect and enhance the surrounding land. Several St. Marys outreach initiatives in 2013 involved partnerships with the community on biodiversity conservation efforts. These included U.S.-31 Corridor Enhancement Project, and the plant’s fourth eagle release. Other community related efforts include the Phragmites Removal Project and the Rails to Trails Project.
In 2013, St Marys Cement was granted a permit by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which allowed the plant to discontinue the use of Lake Michigan water for process noncontract cooling and consumptive needs, and instead use the plants own quarry dewatering water. This means that 500 million-plus gallons of water will no longer be drawn from Lake Michigan annually.
Additionally, in September 2013, St Marys Cement announced that the plant achieved recertification in all three ISO systems.
Finalist: Cemex USA, Demopolis, Ala.
Cemex Demopolis actively manages approximately 1,620 acres for wildlife conservation. The mission of Cemex’s Wildlife at Work program is to responsibly manage the land within their operations to protect and enhance ecosystems and biodiversity. Partnering with Demopolis High School’s Industrial Arts class, nest boxes were built and installed for wood ducks and song birds to provide supplemental nesting habitat along the quarry pond and open grassy areas of the property. The Cemex Demopolis wildlife team is monitoring the seven wood duck boxes and 16 songbird boxes to ensure that they are successful, with many years of successful clutch hatches as of spring 2014. All of the wood duck boxes have been utilized by wood ducks, and approximately half of the songbird boxes have also been utilized.
In November 2013, the Demopolis plant was awarded the Wildlife Habitat Council’s Wildlife at Work certification for their voluntary, employee-based wildlife habitat enhancement efforts that exceed regulatory requirements.
Lafarge North America’s Alpena plant and Lehigh Hanson’s Union Bridge plant.
Winner: Lafarge North America Inc., Paulding, Ohio
The Innovation Award recognizes cement industry leaders in the development and application of innovative technologies and techniques relevant to environmental protection or energy efficiency.
The Lafarge Paulding facility fully captured small grain cement kiln dust (CKD) for return back to the kiln feed bed by briquetting the CKD powder prior to reintroduction to the feed bed. Briquetting machines have been around for many years, however, this may be the first time the process has been used to improve CKD recycling rates.
After an initial and successful trial using smaller equipment, the Paulding plant installed a larger briquetting machine and feed system to the plant’s kiln systems. As a result, the plant was able to return 1 ton of CKD per hour to the hood of the kilns.
The project increased clinker production, reduced CKD going to the landfill, increased kiln performance factor, reduced the chlorinated grinding aid accelerator, decreased Specific Heat Consumption, and reduced CKD haul truck hours to the landfill. With a yearly savings of $1 million, the project payback period was less than eight months.
Finalist: Buzzi Unicem USA, Inc., Maryneal, Texas
In 2013, the Maryneal plant commissioned the first Horomill grinding system in the United States, replacing a decades-old, inefficient, cement grinding system. The energy savings have been significant. From January 2009 through June 2013, the power consumption rate of the plant’s grinding system was 78.3 kW/h per short ton of cement produced. Between July and December 2013, Horomill power consumption averaged 47.7 kW/h per short ton of cement produced, representing a 40 percent reduction in power consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions. Additional benefits from this new system include reduced noise levels and less off-spec cement. The plant has also seen a reduction in water consumption rates.
Lehigh Hanson’s Union Bridge plant was the runner up for the Innovation Award.
Winner: CalPortland Co., Rillito, Ariz.
The Energy Efficiency award recognizes a plant’s energy planning, applications of efficiency technologies and practices, and climate change mitigation efforts. The Rillito cement plant performed a Department of Energy in Plant Training Assessment event for compressed air in 2012, and in 2013 the facility followed up on the energy savings opportunities. The study identified that a plant pressure reduction opportunity existed; the plant successfully implemented two separate air pressure reductions amounting to over a one percent reduction of compressed air costs. The plant also improved its overall energy efficiency by 5.78 percent in 2013 resulting in a savings of over $1 million.
Additionally in 2013, the plant also improved kiln fuel efficiency by 6 percent though more extensive utilization and optimization of its Capstone expert control system, and through an aggressive quality control improvement program. The Rillito plant improved its electrical efficiency by 3.9 percent compared to 2012.
The Rillito plant made efforts to “go green” by using locally provided pecan shells for kiln process bio fuel, creating a green team that has been incorporated into the energy management team that works on recycling programs, and an aggressive renewable energy program that includes the operation of eight wind turbines.
Finalist: Cemex USA, Clinchfield, Ga.
The Clinchfield plant continues to be a leader in energy management, alternative fuels substitution and the communication of Energy Star messages. As part of an energy management program, the plant has formulated a multi-disciplinary site energy team to carryout site energy management activities. The team consists of members from all departments who have a role in the energy consumption plant. They have a range of responsibilities, such as finalizing energy performance goals for the plant and defining strategies for achieving the goals.
In 2013, Cemex Clinchfield continued to explore innovative solutions to manage energy consumption and costs more efficiently. One of the methods considered was participation in demand side management or power demand response offered by local utilities. Through their participation in these programs, it has effectively contributed to power distribution grid reliability, helping to avert chances of rolling power outages, or blackouts, in local communities.
Lehigh Hanson’s Union Bridge plant and Cemex USA’s Victorville, Calif., plant were runner ups in the Energy Efficiency category. Lafarge North America’s Alpena plant was also a finalist.