The most positive impact we have on the environment is by developing products that make construction - and the manufacture of construction materials such as concrete - more energy efficient and less wasteful.
When we empower our customers – including contractors, concrete and cement producers, and architects – to use products that reduce their carbon footprint and extend the life of their projects, we make an exponential difference around the world.
GCP is currently driving sustainability in two key construction segments:
Specialty Construction Chemicals
- Lowering energy consumption in cement production
- Reducing the amount of cement needed in concrete to further lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
- Using big data to deliver more sustainable concrete and reduce waste
- Keeping returned concrete out of landfills
Specialty Building Materials
- Increasing energy efficiency by controlling air flow in and out of structures
- Improving the longevity and durability of structures, thus reducing waste
- Delivering products that support LEED building certification
GCP’s Specialty Construction Chemicals
Lowering energy consumption in cement production
The Royal Society of Chemistry found that “concrete is the single most widely used material in the world, and it has a carbon footprint to match.” Cement is the key ingredient in concrete, and is the source of approximately 8% of the world’s industrial CO2 emissions, according to the think tank Chatham House.
GCP’s products are designed to help lower the carbon footprint across the entire concrete industry. For example, we develop and sell industry-leading grinding aids and quality improvers to lower the amount of energy needed to produce cement, and have been doing so for decades. Cement producers around the world rely on these additives to operate their cement mills more energy efficiently and to increase the output from their cement mills while reducing cost and emissions.
Reducing the amount of cement needed in concrete to further lower CO2 emissions
GCP produces water reducers, including our ADVA®, CONCERA®, MIRA®, and ZYLA® products. These admixtures disperse cement particles evenly in a concrete mixture, leading to more efficient use of cement, and improvement in workability during placement. With these dispersive properties, less water and cement are needed in concrete mixes, while still achieving the required compressive and flexural strengths for the project.
In its report Making Concrete Change: Innovation in Low-carbon Cement and Concrete, the Royal Institute of International Affairs stated, “Given the rapid emissions savings needed for a climate-compatible cement and concrete sector, understanding the potential for disruption in the sector...is vitally important,” noting the potential for data and digital tools to enable these shifts. Our VERIFI® in-transit concrete management system is a notable example of this type of disruptive technology. It is the first-ever technology to address inefficiencies in the concrete delivery process by actively managing concrete from batch plant to job site.
Leveraging VERIFI®'s in-transit control and business intelligence data, our customers can develop and execute mix optimization programs that reduce cement in their mixes. This reduction in cement lowers the carbon footprint of each load of concrete.
Ready-mix plants are using the VERIFI® in-transit concrete management system to save fuel and reduce their carbon footprint.
Keeping returned concrete out of landfills
When trucks containing concrete return to the plant, the concrete is typically used to make large blocks or dumped on the ground and allowed to harden. Eventually the large piles of hardened concrete are crushed and hauled away to be landfilled or recycled into base material.
Our CLARENA® RC40 admixture makes it easy to convert returned concrete into recycled aggregate. When a truck returns to the production site with returned concrete, the driver simply adds CLARENA® RC40 into the truck drum to produce recycled aggregate. This recycled material can then be sold as high quality, compacted base, or used as a partial replacement for aggregate in fresh concrete.
This innovative solution keeps returned concrete out of landfills, reduces labor costs, lengthens the life of quarries, and provides concrete producers with an additional source of revenue.
Reducing waste has never been more important
CLARENA® RC admixtures help our customers do just that.
Specialty Building Materials Products
Delivering products that support LEED certification
Many municipalities earn attractive incentives when the buildings they specify achieve LEED certification. This issue is also of critical importance to architects and developers.
The 94,000-member American Institute of Architects (AIA) states that “rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and the degradation of natural resources are a direct result of increased carbon levels, which threaten national security and global economies. They disrupt the balance of ecosystems and undermine public health. They threaten to transform our planet irreparably and compromise our future...designing and constructing buildings that can combat the greenhouse effect will improve our chances of repairing our planet while creating a healthy, resilient, and regenerative future. Our goal, as set forward by AIA and partners like Architecture 2030, is net-zero emissions in the building sector by 2050.”
Using our specialty building material products can help our customers to design and construct greener, more sustainable buildings. For example, choosing MONOKOTE® fireproofing products can potentially help projects achieve LEED 2009 and V4 credits under the Building Design, Construction, and Interior Design and Construction rating systems.
GCP initiated the development of Product Category Rules (PCR) and Environmental Product Declarations for Fire Protection categories with the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) / the National Center for Sustainability Standards. The PCR committees included representatives from government, academia, small and large manufacturers who represented a majority of the market, suppliers, and users of the standard.
Any of our flagship brands, including a wide selection of MONOKOTE® fireproofing, PREPRUFE® waterproofing, PERM-A-BARRIER® membranes, and ICE & WATER SHIELD® roofing underlayments, have Declare labels and/or are Red List Free. Using GCP products with Environmental Product Declarations enables builders to gain one LEED point.
Increasing energy efficiency by controlling the air flow in and out of homes
When homes are not properly sealed, cold air seeps in around windows and doors while warm air escapes. In addition to potentially being uncomfortable for the home’s occupants and introducing the possibility for water intrusion, this air leakage results in high heating and cooling bills.
Our VYCOR® enV-S™ water and air resistive barriers improve home energy performance. By protecting against air leakage as well as wind-driven rain, while allowing the wall system of the house to “breathe,” VYCOR® enV-S™ weather barriers reduce heating and cooling costs, prevent mold, and protect a home’s structural integrity.
As noted by the award-winning home builders Sweenor Builders, frequent collaborators on 'This Old House', “these building envelope products, combined with our building methodologies, are contributing factors to getting an airtight seal. That will cut the costs to heat and cool the home considerably.”
Improving the durability of structures to reduce waste
Builders and designers are always seeking new ways to extend the life of structures they construct. A longer structure life reduces the need for costly and resource-intensive replacements, renovation, and repair. GCP’s products are relied on by builders and designers to help that improve the durability of buildings and other structures.
Our ELIMINATOR® bridge deck waterproofing system, for example, has been tested to support a 120-year design life. This is particularly important at a time when many communities are grappling with crumbling infrastructure, including bridges. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association reports that more than 47,000 bridges in the U.S. are in dire need of repairs.
Steel and concrete bridges can deteriorate due to water infiltration, chlorides from winter salt application, and frost. The ELIMINATOR® system protects against these corrosive effects. GCP also provides an array of above- and below-ground waterproofing systems that can help improve the durability of commercial buildings, airports, tunnels, mass transit systems, and more.
Professional Guidance for Greater Sustainability
Our Technical Services team advises home builders on specifying and installing products that maximize energy savings and lower home heating and cooling costs for the future homeowners. Studies find that home buyers are willing to pay more for sustainable homes. A survey by the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Los Angeles, revealed that, on average, green homes sold for 9% more than comparable homes. In addition, the National Association of Home Builders found that 81 percent of consumers would prefer an ENERGY STAR-rated home.
Working closely with cement and concrete producers, our Technical Services team provides advice on optimizing the use and reuse of materials and selecting custom admixtures that both improve durability and sustainability, and create extra financial value for the customer.
- Continued a multi-year, multimillion-dollar project to upgrade storage and process equipment at GCP and customer locations to prevent releases to the environment. This involved hundreds of tank and equipment replacement projects at customer locations and major storage tank replacements at our Houston, TX and Lithonia, GA plants. Since 2016, the number of spills at GCP manufacturing plants and our customer sites has decreased by 43%
- Recycled more than 65% of the waste generated on-site at our Cambridge, MA headquarters
- Installed bulk raw material handling equipment and provided recyclable bags at our Lithonia, GA plant, eliminating the disposal of thousands of paper bags
- Established a rework area in our Bedford Park, IL plant to facilitate the reclamation and reuse of materials used to manufacture our VERIFI® equipment
- Recycled 20 tons of cardboard, bags, paper, plastic bottles, and cans at our North Bergen, NJ plant
- Installed a wastewater treatment system in our Jurong, Singapore concrete lab to collect and reuse wastewater after treatment
Measuring our Use of Natural Resources
In 2019, we embarked on an effort to quantify our use of electricity, natural gas, and water. A global, multi-functional team established 2018 as our baseline. This involved collecting and analyzing data from 50 facilities in 23 countries.
In general, our operations are not energy intensive. Other than comfort heating and cooling, our SCC plants operate batch production processes using pumps, mixers, and storage tanks. The SBM plants are slightly more energy intensive as they generally use continuous production lines and often require heating the process equipment and raw materials to manufacture our waterproofing membranes.
We are analyzing our 2018 baseline and our 2019 actual performance to identify opportunities to reduce our environmental footprint. We are looking for efficiencies that can be shared across common production lines. In 2020, we will expand our data collection efforts by establishing our waste baseline and will report on that metric in 2021.
|WATER (1)||97.78 gal/MT prod||100.00 gal/MT prod||(2.22)|
|ELECTRICITY||32.34 kwh/MT prod||37.22 kwh/MT prod||(4.88)|
|NATURAL GAS||0.19 MMBTU/MT prod||0.21 MMBTU/MT prod||(0.02)|
Throughout 2019, GCP invested in projects focused on increasing efficiency in three primary areas: improving operations, reducing waste, and implementing a process for tracking our use of natural resources. These investments improved our financial performance while reducing our environmental impact, increasing safety, and benefiting the communities in which we work and live.
Our 2019 investments included installing more energy efficient heating and cooling units and replacing fossil fuel-powered equipment with electric equipment. These actions reduced our energy use while preventing pollution and saving money.
- Right-sized our manufacturing footprint and product distribution network
- Built a new SCC plant in Thailand, replacing an older operation. The new plant is more efficient and modern, with full LED lighting, wet scrubbers on all mix tanks, and recycling of scrubber spray water
- Improved secondary containment in our process and storage areas in Chicago and Vancouver
- Installed new HVAC equipment in Passirana, Italy and Jurong, Singapore to improve air quality while reducing energy consumption and emissions
- Upgraded dust and noise control equipment in Ezhou and Chongqing, China and Incheon, Korea
- Replaced forklift trucks with ones that are more energy efficient in Chicago, Vancouver, North Bergen, Los Angeles, and Ezhou, China
- Continued to upgrade lighting to LED for better visibility, lower maintenance, and lower electricity usage at our plants in Houston, Chicago, and Ezhou, China
Sustainability of our LOGISTICS AND Supply Chain
As part of our vendor qualification process, we require all large vendors to sign our Supplier Code of Conduct. GCP is committed to operating with the highest standards for business ethics, human rights, environmental protection, and worker’s rights, and we expect our business partners to share this commitment.
We continue to seek new ways to optimize our supply chain. For example, our primary transportation vendors Odyssey and Kenan Advantage Group, Inc. have taken numerous steps to reduce their environmental footprint.
- Reduced mileage (and thereby fuel consumption) by 12% by optimizing carrier routing
- Increased capacity by 11 percent by increasing the liquid bulk payload of trailers
- Participate in the EPA’s SmartWay program to advance supply chain sustainability by measuring, benchmarking, and improving freight transportation efficiency
- Participate in the TFS (Together for Sustainability) partnership/audit program, the de facto global standard for environmental, social, and governance performance of chemical supply chains
Kenan Advantage Group:
- Deployed idling reduction and speed governor technologies on its vehicles
- Invested in low-rolling resistance tires to reduce energy loss as the tires roll, and retread technologies that extend the life of tires
- Using or testing alternative fuels and enviro-engines
- Implemented initiatives, including recycling of batteries, motor oil, coolants, scrap metal/wood, tires, spill pads, and wash/wastewater
- Employed software for tracking driver sustainability performance and initiated an incentive program to reward drivers for sustainable driving practices
Saving Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars through Scrap Removal
At our Mt. Pleasant, TN plant, we invested in a slitter machine that allows us to cut rolls of our VYCOR® flashing and waterproofing products more efficiently with less waste. We estimate this will save more than $350,000 a year in scrap and disposal costs.
|TRIM SCRAP REDUCTION||$238,000|
|LINE 2 SCRAP REDUCTION||$50,000|
|IMPROVED RUBBERIZED ASPHALT THICKNESS CONTROL||$47,000|
|CONSUMABLE ITEM REDUCTION||$24,000|
|CORRUGATE COST SAVINGS||$19,000|