Tarmac lays the foundation for concrete energy reduction

Construction firm Tarmac has ramped up its energy efficiency efforts through the roll out of on-site technologies, the uptake of demand-response, and the development of an energy management system to help measure, monitor and improve efficiencies across the business.

In its 2015 sustainability report released this week, Tarmac specifically highlights an attainment of the ISO 50001 energy management standard across the Birmingham-based firm’s estate.

Achieving ISO 50001 certification effectively enabled Tarmac to “further raise the profile of energy with managers and on-site staff” and made it one of the first companies in the construction sector to comply with the Government’s Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), the report states.

Overall, the report notes that Tarmac is making “good progress” towards its 2020 target of a 37% reduction in carbon emissions from a 1990 baseline, after reaching a 27% fall by the end of 2015.

Throughout the year, Tarmac identified further opportunities to improve site efficiency through various technology advancements. For instance, at its Linford site in Essex, the firm managed to reduce gas and electricity consumption by more than 25% in 2015 through changes including improved boiler efficiency, the implementation of LED lighting and optimised compressed air systems.

“Sustainability remains a cornerstone of managing the long-term future of our business, and plays a fundamental role in shaping our growth strategy,” write Tarmac’s senior vice presidents Martin Riley and Oliver Mahon in the report. “It also underpins our Group vision of being the world’s leading building materials company, through a sustainability framework that creates value for all stakeholders in a consistent, sustainable and responsible way.

“For Tarmac, it encompasses how we build stronger relationships with customers and anticipate their requirements; how we keep our people safe; how we build a business that people want to work for; how we develop our operations and solutions in a way that optimises environmental, social and economic performance; how we ensure strong financial and ethical governance; and how we foster ever closer relationships with local communities around our sites. These are all business-critical issues at the heart of our sustainability strategy.”


Tarmac’s energy reduction achievements were further helped last year through a partnership with demand-side response (DSR) company Open Energi, which resulted in the installation of more than 200 bitumen tanks at around 70 of the firm’s asphalt plants.

And in another initiative, Tarmac is also increasing the use of waste-derived fuels and biomass fuels as a way of reducing emissions. In 2015, 33% of the heat input to the company’s cement kilns was produced from waste-derived fuels, including 16% from biomass. Through extensive use of vehicle telematic systems to track fuel efficiency and driver behaviour, Tarmac has worked with drivers to cut fuel use and reduce emissions.

Ealsewhere in the report, the construction firm states it is making a significant contribution to waste reduction by keeping resources in use. In 2015, the company used 8.2 million tonnes of waste and secondary materials from other sectors as raw materials in products, compared to 7.7 million tonnes in 2014. Moreover, 37,155 tonnes of waste were sent to landfill in 2015, an increase from the 49,697 tonnes directed the previous year.

In terms of water use, Tarmac fell short of its aim of having water management plans in place at all operational units by the end of 2015 but “remains confident” of achieving 100% coverage early in 2016.

Sustainable construction

Tarmac’s CSR report reflects something of a growing trend within the construction industry; with firms placing sustainability at front and centre of operations. Another construction firm that has been championing low-carbon business is Wolverhampton-based Carillion, which revealed an additional £33.8m to its overall profits in its latest CSR report thanks to an increased focus on sustainable business practices.

Meanwhile, UK construction material manufacturer Saint-Gobain recently announced it had made a total saving of £165,000 and experienced an 11% fall in energy demand across its 20 sites in the UK and Ireland, after turning to demand-respons to power down its factories at peak energy periods.

And property developer Berkeley Homes recently unveiled a new sustainable housing design concept, which outperforms traditional terraced housing by reducing up to 25% off utility bills. The company has also embarked upon a new, two-year plan to deliver a 10% reduction in carbon emissions per person.

George Ogleby

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