Keeping It Green - Local Sourcing of Rock, Sand and Gravel

Posted by Keith Severson on Mar 18, 2015

People worldwide are rediscovering the benefits of “buying local.” Chefs have found that food from local gardens and farmers’ markets is not only fresher, tastier and more nutritious; it is also good for our economy - buying directly from family farmers helps keep them in business.  They realize the adverse environmental impact of importing foodstuffs instead of obtaining them locally, and know that if we neglect our local sources they are in danger of disappearing.

Construction materials, and construction aggregates (rock, sand, and gravel), in particular, have many of the same shipping issues. These materials are fundamental (even critical) to maintaining our infrastructure and are used in significant quantities. For example, every one mile of a six-lane highway requires over 110,000 tons of aggregates. If it doesn’t make sense to ship foodstuffs for thousands of miles, it makes even less sense to ship heavy building materials that can be obtained locally 

Foreign sources of building materials such as aggregates and cement are imported on barges which burn crude bunker oil, a byproduct of asphalt production. Their harmful emissions drift across the ocean to be deposited on our soil. Other countries may not have the environmental requirements we have in the U.S, and the end result is a greater environmental hazard and carbon footprint for the world and our communities than use of a properly regulated, local product which is transported short distances, often by railcar.

When building materials are sourced locally, they require shorter haul trips, reduced diesel fuel consumption and less greenhouse gas production. When transported by rail, the benefit is even greater. Each railcar of rock keeps four haul trucks off the highways, which means reduced diesel emissions.  Roads are not only safer for drivers,  they also experience less wear and tear and require less expensive, road-congesting maintenance .

Thanks to the "green" building movement, more people are now recognizing the environmental benefits of a local aggregate supply.

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