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Bode Concrete of San Francisco has received NRMCA's Green-Star certification. It's no accident that the batch plant (center) resembles a lighthouse.

When a manufacturer relocates to a high-profile location, the move is sure to draw attention. When Bode Concrete moved to the San Francisco Bay waterfront in 2002, management felt the pressure from regulators and environmentalists.

The producer responded to the attention in spades, eventually receiving the NRMCA's Green-Star certification. The plant-specific Green-Star certification is based on a producer's Environmental Management System (EMS), and its plans for continued improvement.

Bode incorporated an EMS as a major part of its operations years ago, when the producer moved to its 2.5-acre waterfront site. The effort began as a checklist of criteria to appease the city and surrounding communities. It has become a set of best practices and a way of life.

“We know how to work with environmental issues here in California,” says Dennis Broderick, Bode's vice president and general manager. “When we heard about Green-Star, we thought, ‘we are already doing this.' ”

Green-Star provides an industry-specific measurement of environmental excellence, focusing on the unique operational characteristics of that industry. The NRMCA program fills the gap between the concrete industry's efforts and other EMS-based certification programs, such as USEPA Performance Track and ISO 14001. A Green-Star producer's EMS must include plans to manage water quality, air quality, hazardous and solid materials, address community issues, and improve sustainability.

To earn certification, Bode identified its environmental goals and set a timeline for reaching them between October 2007 and September 2008. After each cycle, Green-Star producers are subject to a comprehensive audit and inspection by NRMCA or an external auditor to ensure they've met their goals and are continuing to raise the bar.

“One of the most important parts of the Green-Star program is setting measurable goals, so you can actually determine what progress has been made,” says Broderick.

Using gray water

Bode continues to make progress. The plant was built with a stormwater retention system which allows the producer to use more than 450,000 gallons of “gray” water to batch concrete. To handle solid material waste, Bode uses one of the largest reclaimers in the country and uses leftover concrete to manufacture block and recycled aggregate. Bode has also achieved its goal of using 20% supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) in its concrete.

In the next phase, which began last fall and ends in September, the producer plans to increase SCM use to 25%, use solar energy to reduce its energy consumption by 10%, and find an effective biodiesel for its equipment. Bode is already setting new goals for 2010.

Bode also shares news of its improvements by participating in community meetings and sending quarterly reports to the Port of San Francisco. To update customers, engineers, architects, and even competitors, Bode hosts an annual Earth Day luncheon focused on green construction and practices.

“We are proud of our Green-Star certification,” says Broderick. “It will pay dividends, but even if it didn't, it's the right thing to do.”

Eight other plants are Green-Star certified: Boston Sand and Gravel in Charlestown, Mass.; Lafarge's Glenwood plant in Atlanta; four Transit Mix Concrete & Materials plants in Texas - Seven Points, Mt. Pleasant, Huntsville, and Bastrop; and U.S. Concrete's Alliance and DeSoto plants in Dallas-Ft. Worth.

For more about Green-Star certification, visit www.nrmca.org. To read about Bode Concrete's move to San Francisco Bay, see our article, "Jumping Through Hoops" (Sept. 2005).