Natural Resource Improvements and Efficiencies
Reducing natural resource usage is a top priority at Summit Materials. We have worked to initiate many effective programs across our different lines of business that demonstrate our commitment to efficiencies and improvements in the use of our resources and reductions in our emissions. Our projects are completed with the intention of reducing costs, environmental impact, and improving our operations and local communities.
Transitioning from Diesel Generators to the Power Grid:
In our aggregates business, we have transitioned more than 15 of our permanent locations from generator use to the electrical power grid; thus, reducing our on-site emissions and equipment maintenance. These types of changes decrease the noise decibels, and improve the safety, health, and the general working and living conditions of our employees and surrounding communities. Nearly 60% of our quarries, currently in operation, run their crushing equipment on power from the grid. The remaining facilities on generator power are generally not permanent, and therefore, regularly need the ability to move the equipment from place to place.
Transporting Aggregate Material by Barge, Rail, and Conveyor.
In an effort to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and to the extent possible, we transport our aggregate products long distances by barge or rail. For example, our cement operations barge or rail close to 60% of their cement along the Mississippi River to terminals as far south as New Orleans and as far north to Minneapolis. Mainland Construction Materials ULC, our Vancouver, BC-based company, transports nearly 65% of their aggregate by barge and rail.
Since 2015, we have installed conveyors at more than 10 new locations across the country, not to mention the scores of other sites that are already using this more efficient method of transporting rock. Conveyor systems reduce the need for moving rocks long distances with loaders and dump trucks; reducing dust, noise, and using energy more efficiently at our quarries.
Asphalt Plant Improvements
We have steadily reduced our greenhouse gas emissions at our asphalt plants in recent years by switching from burner fuel (mainly recycled used oil) to natural gas. This reduction allows our asphalt plants to maintain the same levels of production with a cleaner burning fuel that emits less carbon dioxide.
Our Rolling Fleet
Our ready-mix fleet has worked to optimize over-the-road travel, by using GreenRoad, a software program that helps us track, rate, and improve our drivers’ decisions, on-route optimization, and safety. On an annual basis, we invest millions of dollars into improving our over-the-road fleet and equipment. For every new vehicle that replaces a 20-30 year old piece of equipment, the average fuel efficiency and emissions drastically improve. In addition, our repair and maintenance program ensures all of our vehicles are operating at their best standards, to ensure safety, efficiency, and environmental benefit. We have started to transition to Hybrid loaders, and currently have seven John Deere 944K loaders working at our busiest quarries.
Continental Cement Energy Reduction Programs:
Continental Cement is a partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR certification program. This signifies that our Hannibal, MO plant was certified in both 2016 and 2018, by performing in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency, meeting strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA. Continental Cement has improved its energy performance by managing energy strategically across the entire organization and by making cost-effective improvements to its plant.
At our Davenport plant, Continental Cement uses waste from surrounding industries to supply the added ingredients needed in cement manufacturing, (limestone, iron, silica, and aluminum) in lieu of a newly mined source for these compounds. This saves virgin sources of raw materials, and converts industrial waste into a useful product.
On average, our cement plants get more than 35% of their total energy from alternative fuel sources. These are waste products, including liquid and solid hazardous waste, industrial waste, and used tires, all of which still contain useful amounts of BTU’s. Alternative fuels reduce the need for incineration or landfills (where these waste products would otherwise have been sent), and are directly replacing fossil fuels used to heat our cement kiln.