Manufacturing the sustainable way (Part 1)
In one of my previous blogs, I wrote about Boral Industries’ commitment to sustainability through its products and the plants in which they are produced. In my next two posts, I am going to take a more in-depth look at two of Boral’s brick manufacturing facilities in Terre Haute, Indiana and Union City, Oklahoma. These plants have not only exceeded government standards for operational efficiency, but show Boral’s innovativeness in manufacturing in the United States.
Terre Haute, Indiana
Boral Bricks commissioned the Terre Haute plant in November 2006. The 295,000-square-foot facility is not only the largest brick manufacturing facility in the U.S., but it is also one of the most energy efficient. It remains the only LEED Gold certified plant in the nation. The plant uses recycled materials from a nearby coal plant and methane gas from a nearby landfill as a substitute for natural gas. This is the second brick plant owned by Boral Bricks to tap this relatively new energy source; the other facility is in Union City, Oklahoma (which I’ll go into more detail about in Part 2 of my blog later this month).
At 100 percent operating capacity, the Terre Haute plant can produce approximately 120 million bricks per year, which is enough to build more than 8,300 all-brick homes. The plant is a technological marvel featuring advanced automation, including robotic setting and packaging. The kiln is an astounding 530 feet long by 33 feet wide and operates at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The kiln can accommodate 27 cars that weigh approximately 57 tons each when loaded with brick. A batch of bricks can be stacked, fired and cooled in less than 30 hours in a variety of sizes, textures and colors.
As a zero waste facility, nearly all materials used in the manufacturing process are recycled in new batches. This includes shale that is reclaimed from a nearby coal mining property and used to make bricks. The plant uses premium efficiency motors, sensors and timers for minimal light usage to achieve additional sustainability.