2015 Ecological Awards
NAPA’s Ecological Award competition, which started in 1971, recognizes excellence in asphalt facility operations. NAPA selects the award recipients using rigorous criteria to evaluate the environmental friendliness of their operations. Read more about the ecological practices of these winners in the July/August 2016 edition of Asphalt Pavement magazine.
WINNER — EXISTING PLANT
Ajax Paving Industries of Florida
North Venice, Fla.
Plant #1 — North Venice
Ajax Plant 1 has existed on its current site for 17 years, but recently underwent upgrades and ecologically progressive changes and advancements. In 2014, Ajax Plant 1 began the $150,000 process of regrading and redesigning its stormwater retention systems. Since the new systems were put in place, turbidity numbers in the stormwater swales have decreased by about 35 percent, said Vince Hafeli, Vice President of Ajax Paving Industries of Florida.
All of the plant’s mobile equipment wash water is captured in an on-site self-contained recirculating wash/treatment station where biological bacteria consumes the oil and contaminates, Hafeli said. It runs on a 12–18 month cycle in which an independent company is hired to vacuum all the water out of the system, which is then cleansed of sediment and debris. Everything is documented, tested, and reported to the Department of Environmental Protection.
“Dollar-wise this keeps us in compliance with no fines,” Hafeli said. “When inspectors show up for the annual air compliance test, just the nature of how we take care of our facilities makes a statement to them. They say if you put that much effort and time in how you take care of the facility then you must also do quality work.”
As for emissions, Ajax Plant 1 has always been on the winning side of compliance tests, he said. The company’s Average Particulate Emissions (grains per standard cubic feet) on its most recent test was 0.0001, with the upper allowable limit being 0.04. He said the plant recently purchased new fuel tanks that are designed for added protection of the environment.
“Even though the fuel tanks are inside containment structures, we went to the added expense and bought double-walled tanks,” Hafeli said. “So it’s basically a double containment structure system that will catch any fuel before it get out of the system into the groundwater.”
The plant’s entrance roads, the area surrounding the plant itself, and the stockpile yard area are paved in an effort to control dust. The plant is surrounded by a golf community on one side and a new community just being built on the other side. The plant is on very good terms with the Board of Directors for the golf course community, noting Ajax Paving Industries donated $80,000 for landscaping and vegetation to beautify the community’s property.
“We talk to the community ahead of time to let them know what we’re doing and bring them in so they can see how changes will affect them either positively or negatively,” Hafeli said. “It goes a very long way. We have a very good image in this area and we do a lot of community service and donations.”
Another important step by Ajax Paving Industries to advance ecologically was establishing an in-house environmental compliance officer in 2014. This position has greatly improved monitoring and compliance issues for the company, Hafeli said.
WINNER — NEW PLANT
Payne & Dolan
Control #10 in LaGrange, Wis.
Payne & Dolan’s Control 10 plant sits in the bottom of a gravel pit in the center of the company’s property in LaGrange, Wis. The 500-ton-per-hour counterflow drum warm-mix plant is a half-mile from the property’s entrance and out of sight of the main road.
The plant was specifically placed at the bottom of the aggregate site so that all stormwater can be retained on-site, with nothing entering the local waterways, said Jim Mertes, Environmental Manager for Payne & Dolan. In addition, all employees are trained in spill prevention and stormwater pollution prevention measures. “We believe that environmental excellence is one of the keys to our success,” Mertes said. “By limiting the environmental impacts of our operation, along with educating and challenging our employees and engaging our communities, we have created a sustainability program that will help us and the communities that we serve thrive.”
Noise was proactively addressed by Payne & Dolan. They retrofitted the company’s loaders with special backup alarms so sound doesn’t resonate very far.
“The sound is concentrated directly behind the piece of equipment,” Mertes said. “Typically people complain about noise and it’s one of the biggest issues. The backup alarms can be heard a long way away so we addressed that.”
Payne & Dolan moved swiftly in preventing another common concern from communities — odor. A chemical odor oxidizer is added to the liquid asphalt shipped to the plant to help minimize any odors when the material is heated.
“In addition to that we also have an odor control mist system that is used within the stack and at the load out of the plant,” Mertes said. “We’ve had zero complaints about noise, dust, or odor — or anything.”
All input for the mixes is locally derived, and since switching to warm-mix production, Mertes said the plant regularly notes a 10 percent reduction in fuel usage.
“Every mixture that we produce at the plant has between 15-25 percent reclaimed asphalt pavement and between 3-5 percent recycled asphalt shingles,” he said.
Payne & Dolan recently started developing an environmental management system to internally measure and monitor environmental factors in an effort to continuously improve them, Mertes said. One of the environmental factors to be monitored is energy use, which is controlled through the amount used per ton of mix, recycling, and installation of variable frequency devices on all the bins, exhaust fans, and drag slats.
“We’ve estimated we’re going to save 30-40 percent on electrical usage for those particular items,” he said.
FINALIST — EXISTING PLANT
Staker Parson Cos., an Oldcastle Materials Co.
Bringham City Plant
Before designing the new Brigham City Plant, which became operational three years ago, Staker Parson examined its ecological efforts and identified a number of improvements to make the plant run smoother, more efficiently, and with greater consideration to the environment.
“We were able to increase efficiency of the overall operation just by being able to locate the plant in the area of the pit that made the most sense,” said Patrick Clark, environmental advisor for Staker Parson Cos., an Oldcastle Mountain West Division.
The new warm-mix technology plant, along with its associated equipment and trucks, were moved into the central core of the property to provide a better buffer to the community.
The use of warm-mix technology helps reduce raw material usage by roughly 5 percent, simply by reducing the amount of fuel needed to heat the mixture, Clark said. A secondary benefit is that it allows the company to serve a larger area by allowing two to three times greater haul distances.
The company exercises best management practices by retaining all stormwater run-off on site and controlling fugitive dust through paving of surfaces and chemical treatment of the haul roads.
Clark said the plant acts to conserve the area’s natural resources in many ways, including participation in the state’s Rocky Mountain Power “Blue Sky” program. The company is able to purchase 9,000 megawatts of renewable wind power, which translates into an annual savings of 37 tons of carbon dioxide.
“It allows us to demonstrate that we are investing in renewable energy sources,” Clark said. “We are using a portion of the energy requirements at the plant, coming directly from renewable energy sources.”
While making the company more ecologically robust, Staker Parson has also taken great strides in reaching out to the community, Clark said.
“Back in 2005 when we went to modify the existing plant, there was quite a bit of community contention,” Clark said. “We really, really focused on our outreach at that point and making sure we were communicating with the community. When a permit revision was needed for the new plant, we didn’t have any community backlash at all.”