Members of the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Southwest Virginia Chapter toured Roanoke Cement Company's (RCC) Troutville, Va., plant late last month to learn from the company's successes in reducing energy use as well as how cement and cement-related products help build a more sustainable community. Over 60 attendees, including USGBC members, ready-mixed concrete producers, as well as plant management and employees, enjoyed presentations, refreshments, and a bus ride tour highlighting the last 15 years of the facility's environmental progress.

"What's important for us is to continue to reduce our own environmental footprint at Roanoke Cement, as well as to assist in building a greener community. Cement is the 'glue' that binds concrete and concrete products, and concrete is a green-building product in its own right. This is highlighted in cutting-edge uses like pervious concrete paving and thermal mass construction," says Don Ingerson, vice president of sales and marketing for Roanoke Cement Co. (RCC).

The only active cement plant in Virginia, Roanoke Cement is one of only 10 plants ranked in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Top Performing Plants" in the country, earning a 2007 Energy Star for superior energy efficiency within the cement industry.

Specifically, for the last five years, RCC has spent $50 million in capital upgrades with $30 million spent in the last two years to further modernize the plant, eliminate efficiencies and improve environmental performance. "If we isolated but a single reason for winning the Energy Star Award, it is our investment in the preheater tower," says Dan Babish, production engineer in his presentation. "The plant obtains a 40% reduction in fuel consumption through the heat exchange alone."

"RCC's efforts to improve energy efficiency benefit both the environment and their bottom line," says Nell Boyle, Southwest Virginia Chapter Chair of USGBC. "A tour like this allows our members to be exposed to and educated about how plants can modernize and become more green. We serve many industries like engineering, architecture, and contracting that are true staples of our economy, and they are adaptable. We are here to learn how and then teach them the green way."

The USGBC Southwest Virginia Chapter is the leading regional resource for sustainable practices and support for the built environment. The USGBC is a nonprofit organization committed to expanding sustainable building practices and is composed of more than 15,000 organizations from across the building industry working to advance structures that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. More information can be found at