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Titan America's Clear Brook, Va., plant earned a Silver rating in NRMCA's Sustainable Concrete Plant Certification program.

Titan American LLC holds itself to high environmental standards. The Norfolk, Va.-based producer of ready-mix, cement, aggregates, and pre-cast products shares a culture of sustainability with its Greek parent, Titan SA. “Europe has adopted green initiatives faster than the U.S., and we benefit from that mindset,” says Scott Manning, technical services manager for the producer's U.S. concrete division.

When NRMCA announced its Sustainable Concrete Plant Certification program in February, Titan was first in line. Three of its ready-mix plants—near Richmond and Norfolk, Va., and Washington, D.C.—are the country's first to become certified. The first internationally certified plant is in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The program is part of NRMCA's ongoing effort to help producers meet their sustainable goals. It was developed over three years with funding from the RMC Research & Education Foundation, and input from producers, and sustainability and environmental management experts.

Producers use Sustainable Concrete Plant Guidelines to rate a plant's sustainability in several areas: material acquisition, production, delivery and construction, product use, and material reuse and recycling. Plant staff assesses each facility and provides documentation to qualify for sustainability credits, which determine the facility's Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum certification. NRM-CA provides national averages of producers' environmental performance to use as a baseline. A third-party auditor then reviews each application and decides if a plant meets the proposed level of certification.

The program builds on NRMCA's existing Green-Star Certification. To be eligible for sustainable certification, plants must have a Green-Star certified Environmental Management System and energy audit, provide a site plan, and comply with local, state, and federal environmental regulations.

Continuous improvement

While Green-Star focuses on reducing emissions and meeting regulations, the plant certification provides a roadmap for continuous improvement. “Once the Green-Star Environmental Management System is in place, Sustainable Concrete Plant Certification gives producers ways to track their progress and implement sustainable strategies to lower the overall footprint of their production process,” says Lionel Lemay, NRMCA's senior vice president for sustainable development.

The guidelines provide details on reducing energy consumption, carbon footprint, waste, and potable water use. “None of these key performance indicators is regulated yet, but they are areas where the concrete industry can have the greatest impact,” says Lemay.

“Titan was already implementing fuel- and energy-saving programs,” says Manning. “But the certification process identified areas for improvement.” Titan created a sustainable purchasing plan to document its use of environmental criteria in selecting vendors.

Certification costs $750 per plant for NRMCA members, slightly more for non-members ($1250 in the U.S.; $1000 non-U.S.), and it must be renewed every two years. Producers can use the Sustainable Concrete Plant Guidelines even if they do not pursue certification. But Titan values the investment. “It helps to see how your operations rank environmentally,” says Manning. “And the certification underscores our commitment to doing what's right for the industry, and not just ourselves.”

NRMCA offers free webinars explaining the program; upcoming dates include Aug. 25 and Sept. 22.

For more information and to download certification documents, visit www.nrmca.org/sustainability.