As the crow flies, the tiny town of Clear Brook is only about 75 miles west of the bustling cities of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md. But nestled among the gentle ridges of the rolling mountains in Northern Virginia, Clear Brook's 2200 residents might as well be 1000 miles from the nearest metropolitan area.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise that many people living in this area are devoted hunters and anglers. This gives them a special appreciation of nature and the spectacular scenery that envelops them. You can include the employees of Titan America's Clear Brook ready-mix plant among them.
“The plant is unique because it is in a rural area,” says Cliff Bocchicchio, Titan America's environmental manager. “Many of them hunt, so they appreciate minimal impacts on the environment.” The facility is the gold standard in sustainable manufacturing.
The plant's environmental performance has not gone unnoticed. It has achieved NRMCA's Green Star Plant Certification, and last year was one of three Titan facilities recognized in the association's Sustainable Concrete Plant Certification program. Finally, the Clear Brook plant won a First Place Environmental Excellence Award in the 25,001 to 50,000 annual yardage category at the NRMCA ConcreteWorks Conference and Expo in September.
While the awards and recognition are welcomed, Bocchicchio believes such accolades help in other areas. “Goodwill and recognition are part of it,” he says. “It also helps awareness among the employees. When you start doing these types of things, people become proud of where they work and it really helps the business. It makes people feel more productive.”
“People want to be proud of where they work,” adds Jim Progar, Titan's operations manager. “If you're not doing the right things, you don't care about the environment, and you're just out to make a buck, people are aware of that. The extra effort involved in putting these programs into place benefits all. Everybody wants the environment to stay as clean as possible. Everybody wants to maximize the efficiency of the company because everybody benefits from that.”
As planning proceeded and the plant opened in 2005, “a lot of thought went into water issues,” says Bocchicchio. All process water was channelled to the treatment equipment and catch basins. The elaborate water treatment system consists of a series of settling basins and drying beds to treat suspended solids and pH.
“When water gets to the last pit, we have options of what we can do with it,” says Bocchicchio. “We can take the water and utilize it in the concrete for batching, we can treat it to meet quality standards and discharge it, or we can use the water on the unpaved sections of the yard for dust control. The system allows you to do a combination of all those things.”
In addition, the recycled water is used for truck washout. “We're not using freshwater every time we wash out trucks,” says Progar. “That water is captured in the system and recirculates through. The solids fall out and we're able to clean our trucks out.”
Being a rural area, the plant is not hooked up to county water. “There's a tendency for people to think that if you're on groundwater, then you're not paying for the water, so there can be some negligence,” Bocchicchio says. “Whether it's groundwater or county water, we want to try to minimize our use to conserve the natural resource and make our facility as efficient as possible. If it's not going into the concrete, then it's going into our water system, and we have to deal with it one way for another. So minimizing it is to our advantage.”