Before the recent international summit on climate change in Paris started, many U.S. manufacturers had already stepped up and committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In June 2015, 13 of the largest American businesses voluntarily signed up to reduce their carbon emission by 6 billion tons before 2030. On August 3, 2015, 365 businesses, including Fortune 500 companies and small local businesses, came out in support of the U.S. Clean Power Plan. America is leading the way—not only on the manufacturing floor, but also on the environmental side.
United States cement manufacturers in particular can feel good about their reduction in the amount of energy used to produce a ton of cement. The industry is committed to reducing their energy usage and voluntarily working to become more environmentally responsible.
In 2014, the average plant used 4.384 million BTUs¹ to produce one ton of cement. In 1972, it took almost 7.4 million BTUs to make the same ton of cement.
Over the past 40 years, the cement manufacturing industry has been able to reduce their energy usage by 42 percent. One factor helping them achieve that reduction was their connection with the Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR® program.
To reduce energy costs, these companies made a commitment to accept responsibility. They established management positions such as a company energy director. They then implemented energy procedures, developing baseline technical assessments and imperative benchmarking requiring new data collection and analysis resources.
Once the data was available, cross functional teams established and created process improvements and implemented best practices.
They educated the total workforce on energy conservation, learning from simple things like turning off lights and motors that weren’t being used, and repairing leaks and scheduling regular maintenance to ensure seals and equipment are operating at peak efficiency. Upgrading and replacing equipment, adding improved sensors to ensure temperatures are set correctly, and implementing monitoring systems helped to ensure processes are functioning efficiently.
The cement industry accounts for about 5 percent of global CO2 emissions, about 40 percent of which comes from energy used in the manufacturing process. Using substituted fuels like biomass, industrial waste, and alternative energy in the cement kilns reduces the need for fossil fuels, which decreases the carbon output. Adding things like pozzolan, fly ash, or slag can also help reduce the carbon footprint. These products generate less CO2 during the manufacturing process but still allow the cement to have the same properties.
All of these efforts have helped cement manufactures reduce their energy usage and their carbon footprint while increasing their output by 5 to 6 percent annually.
We applaud cement manufactures for their efforts to help reduce the pressure on the environment and look for other industries to follow suit.
¹ A BTU is a British thermal unit, which is equal to 1055 Joules, the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.