Granite was named as a finalist for the Acterra 2021 Spare the Air Leadership Award.
Since 1990, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Acterra, a Bay Area nonprofit dedicated to environmental action and sustainability, has celebrated sustainability leadership in the San Francisco Bay Area with the Business Environmental Awards Program. These awards honor organizations whose innovative and influential practices demonstrate clear benefits to their local community.
Granite was recognized for its environmental program, especially its focus on sustainability, governance and transparency. This included the 2019 renovation of its Santa Clara Asphalt Plant facility. The facility upgrade was 10 years in the making and led by the plant’s superintendent Jeff McDaniel. The project goal was to expand production capacity to build better and reduce the impact on the environment and was only possible with participation from construction, construction materials, sales, continuous improvement, safety and environmental departments.
The facility upgrade included the replacement of the rotary drum dryer, dragslat conveyor, baghouse, plant computer and control technologies, ancillary equipment and improvements to the site layout.
The overhaul has allowed for higher production volumes, greater efficiency, and mix designs with a higher recycled as reclaimed asphalt pavement content. The plant now operates 45% faster relative to the old plant, uses 5% less fuel, and produces fewer emissions. All these benefits have more than paid for the project’s cost and provided a return on investment by allowing the facility to break both the single-month historical record for tons produced and its annual sales record by producing and selling more than 400,000 tons of asphalt in 2020.
“We estimate that the new Santa Clara Asphalt Plant will emit 94% less carbon monoxide per year, 68% fewer nitrous oxides, and 98% less particulate matter,” the company stated. “Put another way, the emissions we cut are about equal to the air pollution from 1.8 million vehicle miles, 72,000 gal. of diesel, or the amount of carbon sequestered by 950 acres of forests in one year.
Acterra commended Granite’s work at a company level to engage regulators and industry peers in technical conversations on sustainability. This includes Granite’s participation on the Federal Highways Administration’s sustainable pavements committee and the National Asphalt Pavement Association’s technical development committee for asphalt product category rule development.
Technical input on the product life cycle analysis and product category rules for asphalt pavement mixtures are precursors for capturing data to support environmental product declarations (EPD) that are consistent with reporting rules and provide accurate environmental impact assessments. Granite also developed the EPD standards for CalTrans projects and aided the National Stone, Sand, & Gravel Association in developing EPD tools for the aggregate materials industry.
“Across our projects and facilities, we work to protect the Environmental Aspects our business could impact,” Granite stated. “We promote strategies for water conservation and reuse. We incorporate recycled asphalt pavement into mix designs which reduces construction waste and virgin asphalt binder consumed. The use of warm-mix asphalt reduces fuel consumption through lower processing temperatures. We look to capture conversion credits for transitioning to new technologies like diesel engine upgrades and hybrid equipment. We pilot new products that can reduce air pollutants like renewable natural gas, and renewable diesel. We invest in battery storage, solar power, and motor upgrades to reduce electrical consumption and embedded emissions.
“There is more to do on our road to environmental sustainability, but over the last 99 years, Granite has proved that sustainability is managing the future in mind while delivering sustainable environmental, social, and economic benefits. This award recognizes our continuing engagement and commitment to ethical and sustainable construction,” the company concluded.