Environmental sustainability can seem like a buzzword, but for CRH Canada — one of Canada’s leading building materials manufacturers and construction companies — it’s been part of their DNA for the past 60 years.

“This is an important mindset that is firmly embedded throughout our company,” says John Pontarollo, Senior Vice President, CRH Canada. “We began a climate change initiative at our Mississauga cement plant to help focus our efforts on seeking opportunities to improve efficiencies, and conserve non-renewable natural resources by utilizing alternative material sourcing.”

This holistic approach involves every department, team, and function at the plant to collectively develop solutions, uncover and leverage opportunities, and engage different types of expertise. CRH Canada also collaborates with government, industry, and partner associations to identify viable, sustainable solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To reduce its environmental impact, CRH Canada uses slag cement, which is created with recovered industrial by-product in place of virgin materials. This creates concrete with a higher overall strength and durability, resulting in decreased life cycle costs. The slag cement also has an overall lower carbon footprint and is a sustainable choice for many large-scale projects, as it helps builders in obtaining LEED certification.

Paving the way for environmental sustainability

Aggregates are among the most widely used building materials in the world and are found in roads, dams, and buildings of all types. They are important ingredients in manufactured products such as glass, coated paper, paint, and pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing components such as steel, aluminum, and plastic.

With growing demand for infrastructure in Ontario and across Canada, the need for aggregate material is increasing. “We recognize the need for sustainable, reliable, and effective materials to meet these infrastructure growth priorities,” says Dan O’Hara, General Manager of Dufferin Aggregates, a division of CRH Canada. “It’s important to continue identifying and providing responsible alternatives to raw material extraction so that we can meet the growing demand for aggregates while lessening the burden on the natural environment.”

Whenever possible, Dufferin is committed to using recycled materials. Recycling also extends the reserves of natural materials, which means less land is disturbed for mining. The company supplies approximately 200,000 tonnes of recycled material annually to the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area market — roughly one-and-a-half times the weight of the CN Tower. Recycled material is being used on projects across Ontario, including on the province’s busiest highways.

Sustainable operations validated

The company’s Acton Quarry was the first aggregate site to be certified by the Cornerstone Standards Council, which has developed a world-class certification program for the responsible siting and operation of all pits and quarries in Ontario.

“We are extremely proud to have been officially recognized for our leadership and commitment in this area, and we hope this achievement will be a catalyst for the industry,” says O’Hara. “Now any purchaser of aggregates — be it the public or the private sector — will have confidence in knowing that they are buying responsibly sourced building materials. Communities can be confident that we have met the highest standards pertaining to social and environmental impact.”

CRH Canada remains committed to being a leader in the communities in which it operates, supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy, and reducing its environmental footprint while continuing to provide innovative solutions for climate-resilient infrastructure.