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Holcim Amd Sustainability

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Aainasingh
Words 1553
Pages 7
‘For nearly 11 years, now, we have been on this mission; we call it, “climbing Mt. Sustainability”, a mountain higher than Everest, to meet at that point at the top that symbolizes zero footprint —zero environmental impact. Sustainable: taking nothing, doing no harm’. - Ray Anderson
Sustainability has various definitions, widely differing for a developed nation to a developing, for an environmentalist to a professional, for a corporation to an NGO. More to consider within corporations- for a manufacturing company to an energy intensive one, for a financial to a construction but all of these players have to climb the same big mountain from different directions, facing different slopes and steep passes THE MOUNTAIN SUSTAINABILITY!!!
When we bring Holcim under the indicators of sustainability the inclinations smile towards positive results. As a leading cement company Holcim established in 1912 has been a pioneer in the field of sustainability. From extraction to the production process over to the final product Holcim keeps its pace with the goals of sustainability. For a construction company the approach to sustainability is different when compared to other corporations, as for Holcim the approach lay in: * Adopting the three pillar approach of “The triple bottom line”- economy, society and the environment. * Strong belief in creating value for the stakeholders by embedding sustainability in the very heart of all operations. * Formation of a sustainable development committee chaired by Roland Kohler, responsible for the sustainable development function. * Reducing the environmental impact of a building over its working lifecycle while optimising its economic viability and the comfort and safety of its occupants. (Life-cycle analyses) * Creating a difference from traditional production and building practices which are guided by short term economic considerations. Sustainable production is based upon practices, techniques and processes which emphasize the benefits of long term affordability, quality and efficiency. * The fundamental aim lies in minimize any negative impact on the environment whilst increasing the economic value of each project, contributing to real savings in terms of energy usage, extraction of raw materials, minimizing water consumption, and energy.
Above listed are the basic platforms over which the real pillars of operations and goals are build. The steps to sustainability start from the very root of the raw materials used. Beginning from the process of extraction Holcim targets to reduce the amount of virgin aggregate that is used for the production process. The SERA certification ensures that the aggregates are responsibly sourced having minimal impact on the environment. The compliance standards emphasize not only adherence to laws & environmental protection but also resource efficiency and site stewardship. The company further takes the responsibility of rehabilitation and monitoring the ecological impact of its quarrying activities in fragile areas.
Moving over to production Holcim ensures most of the elements to be used in a sustainable way. As demonstrated by the environmental head of Mississauga Canada - limestone and Silica are the main components of cement production. CO2 is the main volatile element in the production mainly released during two processes: * Use of fossil fuels in the burning process * Calcination, when calcium carbonate is heated and broken down to calcium oxide with the release of CO2.
Per ton of CO2 costs 20$ for the company under government regulations so its very important to use substantial means to reduce its emissions. On an estimate 900-1100kgs of CO2 is released per 1000kgs of cement produced. Terms like “Carbon Capture” and “Carbon Biomass” are also used to define the importance attached to reducing CO2 emissions.
Mercury is another component of the emissions which needs to be controlled. Special heat regulations are used to prevent it from escaping due to low boiling point.
Sulphur Dioxide may also be a part of the gases escaping from the process. Scrubbers are used to control such emissions.
Looking at the use of energy- measures are adopted to reduce the amount of coal used during the process. Pre-calciners are used to reduce the heat required in the process of calcination. Electrical energy is used for various processes. 13% of the energy is generated from renewable energy sources, such as waste heat recovery, wind, hydroelectric power and biomass. (Global data) During 2011, Holcim received 51,243 carbon credits in support of wind power projects in India and alternative fuel projects in Indonesia.
Slag which is a by-product of steel manufacturing is emphatically used in cement production as ground granulated slag reacts with water to produce cementitious properties. Slag does not emit any CO2 content when used in the cement making process unlike that of steel.
Holcim is a big player in the field of using Recycled content and producing recyclable products. With as much as 62% of recycled aggregate used; Holcim successfully reduces the amount of virgin aggregate used. Concrete used in old buildings or waste concrete is readily crushed and reused again as new in new buildings. Holcim has been doing this since 1977 laying down a legacy of resource efficiency. Talking of water measures are taken to reduce water use by reusing the water from the ready-mix process back into the production chain. This I believe is a perfect example of the cradle-to-cradle concept.
I may certainly say that “Innovation harbors sustainability”- Holcim has come up with a new type of cement called “Contempra” which has almost 10% less CO2 emissions in its production. According to Paul Ostrander CEO & President Holcim Canada if Contempra is used as regular cement throughout Canada it will be equivalent to: * Removing 172,000 cars from the road * Planting 23 million trees.
Holcim has also developed a tool to keep its customer informed about the CO2 footprints of certain products that they use. In a close collaboration with British ‘Carbon Trust’ Holcim uses this Product Carbon Footprinting (PCF) tool as a “cradle-to-gate” approach.
Opportunities do not come without challenges. There are many challenges and problems that the company faces on its path of sustainability. * Carbon dioxide emissions being the main obstacle. Compliance with the governmental regulations different in different countries, posing a big problem. Huge amounts carbon taxes have to be paid which can reach upto millions of dollars. Installation of new machinery and filters, scrubbers etc. is also a part of the budget allocation towards reducing CO2 impacts. * I believe that making sustainable products at competitive costs worldwide is a big challenge for every corporation. With big players like Lafarge and Cemex in the arena Holcim faces tough choices manufacturing its product with all the sustainability parameters intact and still keeping costs low and quality to the standard. * Maintaining the ecological balance, preserving sensitive green lands while extraction is another challenge. Having minimal impact on the environment and the population living close to the site is mandatory for the corporation. * Obtaining licenses and involving community and NGOs into the decisionary panels is a big task. Oppositions from the first nations and community concerns can be both expensive and time consuming. * “The Health and Safety” clause is also included under the heading of sustainability. Safety of the employees and their long term commitments to the company is considered important.
Various initiatives have successfully been taken to counter every obstacle and face challenges, new strategies are employed, new standards are met, various certifications that facilitate sustainable and high quality operations remain at the center-stage. Arms- length and Interactive Collaborations with NGOs and other community bodies also help towards good reputational values and benefits to the environment . Certifications like” SERA, ISO 14001, Greenhouse gases certifications, LEEDS, IUCN” are some of the names attached with Holcim. It has also been an active part of various international and national conferences like the GREENBUILD, to promote sustainable ways.
The Holcim foundation of sustainable construction was created in 2003 to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable architectural engineering, urban planning and construction. Five key parameters are set up to measure and guard the performances of the operations: * Innovation * Economic compatibility * Social performance * Architectural efficiency * Environmental performance.
The emission parameter is also a great performance indicator, since emissions are the most crucial factor for the corporation. Compounds like NOx, Sox and also Cox need to monitored and reduced.
There are three forums which are broadly used by Holcim in order to bring in a national and also global attention towards the sustainability criteria: * Holcim Awards * Holcim symposiums (every 3 years0 * Holcim projects exemplifying green building
Looking at the above analyses Holcim Corporation has been the Integrator setting standards and embedding the very essence of sustainability in their core operations.
According to me Holcim has very well maintained the change process, operating in the third phase of the change management process Holcim not only sets an example for other competitors and co-companies to follow lead but it also empowers and encourages sustainable construction through Awards and projects. It sets a vision for a more a sustainable future where not only the corporations but the customers will also understand the need for sustainable products. Proceeding step-by-step Holcim has set the stage of tangible results and profits for the corporation by achieving short-term targets and thus giving higher goals to its employees for a better future. It is marking a shift from the Anticipatory stage realizing its negative impacts, regulating processes etc. to being Proactively involved in Environmental and Sustainable Management.

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