Four cement plants received special recognition for their commitment to improving the environment and their communities at the Eleventh Annual Cement Industry Environment and Energy Awards, presented by the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and "Cement Americas" magazine at PCA's Spring Meeting in Chicago, April 16, 2012.
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 United States, 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 Brian McCarthy, PCA president and CEO. “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 (listed by category, company and plant location):
- Overall Environmental Excellence: CEMEX, Louisville, Ky.
- Outreach: Titan America LLC/Roanoke Cement Company, Troutville, Va.
- Environmental Performance: Holcim (US) Inc., Theodore, Ala.
- Land Stewardship: St. Marys Cement Inc. (U.S.)/VCNA, Charlevoix, Mich.
- Innovation: CEMEX, Louisville, Ky.
- Energy Efficiency: CEMEX, Louisville, Ky.
Nineteen cement plants in the United States were nominated for the awards.
Overall Environmental Excellence
In 2011 the CEMEX plant engaged in a wide range of innovation, energy efficiency, land stewardship and environmental improvement activities to make their plant a better steward of the environment and the community a better place to live. For example, to reduce maintenance and the resulting significant downtime, the Louisville plant replaced the traditional pug mill with a “pug screw,” a common material handling screw. Not only were maintenance costs reduced, but the plant also decreased energy consumption. Modifications to the preheater tower resulted in improved capture efficiency and reduced the heat required to preheat raw material. In 2011, the CEMEX Louisville Plant earned the prestigious national Wildlife Habitat Council’s Wildlife at Work Certification for its on-going wildlife, habitat and environmental stewardship initiatives. In addition to these activities, the Louisville facility has successfully developed and continues to implement an effective alternative fuels program and in 2011 utilized nearly 1 million whole tires as kiln fuel for an annual substitution of 10 percent.
The environmental strides that Roanoke Cement Company (RCC) achieves are largely community-driven. In 2011 the company’s efforts showcased the plant’s commitment to several local initiatives including visits from local Cub Scouts and high school physics students. For the sixth consecutive year plant employees participated in creek clean-up activities. Roanoke Cement reached out to neighbors through letters, brochures and meetings to brief them regarding its proposed quarry expansion and on-site mitigation proposal. Scores of residents signed letters in support of the plant’s plan, which would improve the Catawba Creek habitat and environment through the planting of open canopy riparian buffers and additional efforts designed to reverse increasing sediment loads and reduce cattle intrusion into the creek.
Environmental Performance Award
In 2011, the Holcim (US) Theodore plant substituted more than 25,000 tons of traditional fossil fuel with alternative fuels such as used tires, used oil, used oil absorbent materials from the 2010 BP oil spill, wood chips and plastic by-products. Through its emission monitoring and reporting program, the Theodore plant voluntarily installed continuous emission monitoring (CEM) units for sulfur dioxides, carbon monoxide, and total hydrocarbons. These CEM units serve an important function for kiln operators and managers by helping to optimize the kiln system and minimize emissions. In 2011, the plant targeted further emission reductions through a program initiative that included installation of a selective non-catalytic reduction system, which has resulted in continuous improvement in nitrogen oxides control when compared to 2010.
In the past year, the company received permission from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to use residual dump materials and stockpiles of cement kiln dust as feedstock in its kilns. This not only put the plant on a path to rid the landscape of a dump but also reduced its need for virgin materials. St. Marys continued in its partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, operating and maintaining the Medusa Creek Fish Weir. The weir is located on plant property and consists entirely of quarry discharge water. In 2011, nearly 8,000 salmon were harvested, up almost 2,400 from 2010. 2011 was also the year the plant entered into an agreement with local municipalities to turn rail lines – formerly used for hauling cement – into community trails that provide local residents a pathway connecting them to Fisherman’s Island State Park, which adjoins the St. Marys plant as well as connecting Lake Charlevoix with Lake Michigan.
To reduce maintenance and the resulting significant downtime, the CEMEX Louisville plant replaced the traditional pug mill with a “pug screw,” a common material handling screw. Benefits included reduced parts maintenance and usage and increased energy savings. The pug screw installation increased grinding efficiency; reduced the plant’s raw feed downtime (yielding an estimated savings of nearly $196,000 annually); reduced maintenance and parts consumption by approximately 70 percent; and an annual savings of approximately 620,000 kilowatts per hour (an 80 pecent reduction in power usage).
The CEMEX Louisville team is committed to continuously improving its process through regular and robust assessments of their conditions for identifying improvement areas for energy efficiency. This leadership is repeatedly demonstrated with recognition from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarding CEMEX Louisville with Industrial Plant ENERGY STAR Certifications five years in a row, including 2011.
History of 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 2012 Awards Program included representatives from U.S. EPA-ENERGY STAR, Wildlife Habitat Council, U.S. Geological Survey, World Wildlife Fund and Cement Americas.