The quarry reclamation project was a team effort with the town of Morrison to provide water storage for the Denver metro area. When the award was announced, Morrison Mayor Allen Williams said, “Sustainability for the town of Morrison is essential, and our partnership with Aggregate Industries has virtually guaranteed the survival and the future of the town of Morrison.”
The second reservoir reclamation project, located at a former sand and gravel site, includes three water reservoirs for the cities of Thornton and Arvada. A specialized mixture of clay and water was trenched into bedrock to create a watertight containment area that provides 2.6 billion gallons of water to the two communities.
“Our entire team of employees in the West Central Region has long been committed to the issue of sustainability,” says Regional President Pat Ward. “We have been working on these water reservoir projects for many years, even before sustainability became a buzz word.”
Lafarge, another industry leader in sustainable development, reiterated its commitment to ensuring environmental protection, social responsibility, and corporate governance last May when it launched its Sustainability Ambitions 2012 report. For years, Lafarge has published a sustainability report, but the new paper combines the results of in-depth conversations with stakeholders and the company’s management team. Its intent is to define major issues for the group and outline where Lafarge can positively influence the industry.
“In a changing world, the building materials sector is undergoing a substantial transformation,” said Bruno LaFont, Lafarge chairman and CEO, in announcing the new report. “Global economic and population growth, coupled with the new environmental and social issues that are emerging, give us new responsibilities.”
Three main priorities have been identified as part of the report.
Lafarge reiterated its voluntary commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent of carbon dioxide per ton of cement worldwide between 1990 and 2010. Set in cooperation with WWF International (an independent conservation organization formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund), that goal is well underway. Lafarge is now targeting emissions during the entire life cycle of a building. Noting that 80 percent of carbon dioxide emissions are emitted during a building’s use, Lafarge launched an ancillary project with United Technologies Corp. Under the auspices of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the program — Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) — will strive to identify innovative solutions for developing sustainable, carbon-neutral buildings.
On the aggregates front, Lafarge will promote biodiversity in its 1,000 quarries around the world. The company has committed to screen its quarries according to criteria developed by WWF International and to introduce a biodiversity development plan on all sites with potential in terms of rare animal and plant species, in partnerships with local environmental associations. In North America, that goal often involves a partnership with the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC). Prior to the 2012 report, Lafarge announced its intention to secure certification through WHC at 50 of its North American operations by 2010.
The final top priority identified in the new report is to ensure the health and safety of its workforce. Lafarge says that it will roll out a comprehensive health care program that will ensure that every employee will receive — at the very least — regular medical checkups, including in third-world countries where that is not standard practice.
“Regardless of how ambitious these goals are, we are committed to achieving them. We are committed because achieving our goals will make a real difference,” LaFont said. “When we have achieved our goals, we will have contributed to a better environment and society.”
Good business sense
While many companies have embraced concept of sustainability, others may wonder if the time, effort, and expense is worthwhile. The NSSGA offers the following points in making the business case for sustainability.
Sustainability is a developing issue. Public resource agencies are implementing frameworks based on sustainability development. Companies will increase their abilities to compete effectively by implementing sustainability guidelines.
The long-term viability of the industry is dependent on obtaining and maintaining a social license to operate. These licenses are based on discretionary decisions by local government bodies that are heavily influenced by political and public opinion. Companies will enhance their ability to obtain these licenses when applying sustainability guidelines.
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