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While millions of people around the world recognized the fourth annual Earth Hour this past Saturday, April 3, by customarily turning off lights and appliances in their homes and businesses for an hour, Roanoke Cement Company (RCC) quietly switched off lighting on its pre-heater tower, a 400-foot signpost to the Troutville, Va., plant campus, indefinitely.
Lowering the illumination footprint is part of Titan America's (RCC's parent company) aggressive goals to reduce energy consumption and coincides with its partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy's Energy Star Program initiative. For more than a decade, the EPA has worked with businesses and organizations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through strategic energy management practices.
To qualify for the Energy Star, a building or manufacturing plant must score in the top 25 percent based on EPA's National Energy Performance Rating System. Titan America has been recognized with Energy Star Awards every year since 2007 -- consistently ranked as one of the top performing plants in the country -- and will continue to implement their plan to reduce energy intensity across all operations using strategies provided by the program. Because they have set a gold standard for cement manufacturers, the EPA has requested RCC to educate other facilities through the use of training sessions and energy audits.
Kevin Baird, plant manager for RCC, follows the guiding energy principle that "the easiest way to save power is to not use it. In times of economic downturn, we must look to the low-hanging fruit, like automation and optimization, for efficiencies."
Baird came across his conservation strategy through the plant's four-year affiliation with the Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition, the principal Roanoke Valley organization that tackles energy policy and environmental issues, when they point out the obvious answer to a basic question, "What can we turn off?"
Throughout Botetourt County, where RCC's plant is located, residents have noticed that the night sky is a little darker and the stars are brighter. The former glow emanating from the Troutville plant no longer exists. Previously, almost 100 lights were visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway beyond Buchanan.
"We knew we would make the neighbors happy if we'd just shut the lights off at night," said Baird.
The pre-heater tower now has just two prominent red lights to alert small aircrafts flying in the area.
Roanoke Cement Company, located in Troutville, Va., is a subsidiary of Titan America LLC and the first plant to receive the prestigious Energy Star rating. Titan America LLC is located in Norfolk, Va., and is one of the premier cement and building materials producers in the Eastern United States. Titan America operations include cement plants, ready-mix concrete plants, concrete block plants, quarries, import and rail terminals and fly ash production facilities.