USGBC Tours Virginia Cement Plant

By Mary Beth Kramer, Kramer Consulting | September 28, 2010

Members of the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Southwest Virginia Chapter toured Roanoke Cement Company's (RCC) Troutville, VA, plant recently to learn from the company's successes in reducing energy use, as well as how cement and cement-related products help build a more sustainable community. Over 60 attendees including USGBC members, ready-mixed concrete producers, plant management, and employees enjoyed presentations, refreshments and a bus tour highlighting the last 15 years of the facility's environmental progress.

"What's important for us is to continue to reduce our own environmental footprint at Roanoke Cement, as well as to assist in building a greener community. Cement is the 'glue' that binds concrete and concrete products, and concrete is a green building product in its own right. This is highlighted in cutting edge uses like pervious concrete paving and thermal mass construction," said Don Ingerson, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Roanoke Cement Company.

The only active cement plant in Virginia, Roanoke Cement is one of only 10 plants ranked in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Top Performing Plants" in the country, earning a 2007 Energy Star® for superior energy efficiency within the cement industry.

Specifically, over the last five years, RCC has spent $50 million in capital upgrades with $30 million spent in the last two years to further modernize the plant, eliminate efficiencies and improve environmental performance.

"If we isolated but a single reason for winning the Energy Star Award, it is our investment in the preheater tower," said Dan Babish, production engineer in his presentation. "The plant obtains a 40-percent reduction in fuel consumption through the heat exchange alone."

"RCC's efforts to improve energy efficiency benefit both the environment and their bottom line," said Nell Boyle, Southwest Virginia Chapter Chair of USGBC. "A tour like this allows our members to be exposed to and educated about how plants can modernize and become more green. We serve many industries like engineering, architecture and contracting that are true staples of our economy, and they are adaptable. We are here to learn how and then teach them the green way."