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Case study

Lafarge Canada engages staff in sustainability

GHG Impact:

  • 26% reduction from baseline in GHG emissions from electricity across all Edmonton locations

Cost Savings:

  • $27,000 decrease in natural gas cost year-over-year at the Petroway ready-mix concrete plant

Strategies:

  • Engaging staff on energy savings opportunities
  • Reducing thermostat set-point temperatures

Lafarge Canada Inc. is renowned as the leading supplier of sustainable building materials. Sustainable development is a longstanding principle of Lafarge and a guiding principle in the Group’s first Principles of Action in 1977. In 2018, Lafarge began working with Climate Smart to develop ‘boots on the ground’ sustainability initiatives and strategies to engage staff in energy-saving initiatives.

Lafarge participates in Climate Smart as a part of the Corporate Climate Leaders Program (CCLP) with the City of Edmonton. The Corporate Climate Leaders program is an initiative led by the City of Edmonton to encourage and empower Edmonton corporations to achieve greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.

Lafarge has achieved impressive reductions in energy, water and fuel consumption, resulting in reductions to their GHG baseline, and annual utility expenditures. Across seven ready mix plants, a pre-cast plant and a pipe plant, Lafarge achieved a 15% year-over-year reduction in GHG emissions from electricity consumption from 2018 to 2019, and a 26% reduction from their 2017 baseline. Bill Gowdy, Environmental and Public Affairs manager notes that these reductions were not achieved through large scale technological upgrades or capital intensive projects, but through staff engagement and supporting a strong culture of sustainability within the company.

Initiatives include:

Education and energy efficiency training for staff:

At the Petroway Lafarge ready-mix concrete plant, impressive reductions occurred in energy consumption as a result of participating in the Energy Efficiency Alberta program and by providing energy-savings education. The educational awareness alone has attributed to an impressive reduction in energy right from the start.

Reduction measures included turning down thermostats by 3-4 degrees and maintaining office temperature at slightly lower temperatures. The Petroway RMX plant also made it a priority to turn off the hot water heater every night to save on natural gas consumption, and switching between different zones when heating outdoor aggregate piles, rather than heating all of the zones at the same time. These changes resulted in a 27% reduction year-over-year in natural gas consumption at the facility between 2018 and 2019, and a proportionate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions totalling 305 t-CO2e. That’s the equivalent of taking 56 passenger vehicles off the road in Edmonton – at just one plant. The reduced natural gas consumption alone at the Petroway RMX plant resulted in a cost reduction of over $27,000 in annual natural gas bills, year over year.

Lafarge also implemented measures to adapt their use of machinery with the changing of the seasons. In the summer, Lafarge changed water pumps to ‘summer mode’ thereby turning on pumps only when the demand for water was required, and power off after a few minutes, as opposed to a constant circulation which impacted the machine’s life expectancy and consumed unnecessary energy.

Anti-idling education:

Lafarge provided a number of physical tools to promote the company’s anti-idling policy. This included an anti-idling keychain and decals for hardhats and vehicles to reinforce the new behaviour.

Sustainability as a key component of Lafarge’s business identity:

These changes were a result of staff engagement and the extensive training offered to staff working at numerous locations throughout the Edmonton region. Lafarge made a point of being transparent with staff by sharing electricity bills at supervisor meetings and ensuring that behavioural changes were understood and communicated across the entire Lafarge team. Bill notes that the company’s impressive reductions occurred without any capital investment and are totally attributed to the staff who adopted energy savings and sustainable behaviours as the new normal for working at Lafarge.

‘At the end of the day, we only planted the seed, acting as stewards and cheerleaders. We aren’t embedded in each individual facility on a daily basis. People that work at each operation have to implement change, and it seems that they have fully embraced it. The people at the plants are bringing forth numerous additional ideas now for energy and water conservation.’ Bill Gowdy, Environmental and Public Affairs

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