Worth Repeating


April 1, 2009

Travel back in time to when Lucy was a young pup and sustainability was a new concept.

Sept. 16, 2000 – Lucy (pictured) and I ran our first canine agility competition. Lucy got a passing score of 90 and finished 1.16 seconds under the standard course time, earning a qualifying ribbon and second place in the competition.

That same month, Aggregates Manager featured an article by Jonathan Wilmshurst (then, president of Aggregate Industries, North Central Region) titled “Sustainable Growth: Setting the Proper Goals” (September 2000, p. 7-9). Much of his article remains relevant today and is worth repeating. This article highlights what Wilmshurst had to say back in the day, when Lucy and I were novice agility competitors.

Sustainability was relatively new to the aggregate industry. Wilmshurst described sustainability as a three-legged stool consisting of an economic, an environmental, and a social leg, and said, “If any one leg is neglected or over-emphasized, then the stool falls over.” That description holds true today.

Much of Wilmshurst’s article was aimed toward making a case for having the aggregate industry become involved in sustainability. One of his main arguments was that if the industry does not voluntarily get involved in sustainability, then regulators might take action such as taxing aggregate production. He made reference to the likely future implementation of an Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund in the United Kingdom. Indeed, that levy went into effect in 2002 and has been used to support a variety of projects related to sustainable aggregate resource management. One of the really cool products resulting from the expenditure of those funds can be seen at www.goodquarry.com. Try it. You’ll like it!

Wilmshurst used one of his company’s reclamation projects as an example of sustainability. He also described other actions that the aggregate industry could take to become more sustainable. He began by stating that the industry knew quite well how to take care of the economic leg of the stool. His ideas to strengthen the other two legs remain relevant today. They include:

Environmental leg (in addition to reclamation)

  • Replace over-the-road truck engines with new fuel-efficient ones;
  • Replace old electric motors with new efficient ones;
  • Design new energy efficient processing plants;
  • Embrace the use of recycled aggregates;
  • Use low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) chemicals;
  • Increase use of substitutes for cement such as fly-ash and slag in ready-mix; and
  • Measure energy use per unit produced and set goals to reduce per unit consumption.

Societal leg

  • Provide good, safe jobs with proper pay and opportunity for learning and advancement;
  • Help neighbors after floods, wind storms, blizzards, and so forth;
  • Work with kids through school programs, D.A.R.E., plant tours, scouting groups, internships, and job shadowing;
  • Work with the community through Habitat for Humanity, United Way, and other charitable programs; and
  • Allow spirituality and diversity to dwell in the workplace.

While much of what Wilmshurst wrote in his article remains relevant today, some things have changed. For example, he wrote, “When it comes to the subject of sustainability, our industry is bringing up the rear, not leading.” Over all, the aggregate industry has significantly improved from its first attempts at sustainability. Some of those improvements will be the subjects of future Carved in Stone articles.

Lucy and I also improved from our first attempt at agility. On April 17, 2005, she and I ran her last agility competition. Lucy got a perfect score of 100 and finished 5.53 seconds under the standard course time, earning a qualifying ribbon and her second Master’s title. Today, at 11 years old, she just goes to the trials to chat with the other dogs.

If you have an interesting sustainability experience you would like to share, please send me an e-mail at blanger@usgs.gov.

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