Texan by Nature is excited to recognize CEMEX as a 2021 TxN 20 honoree for their leadership in conservation and sustainability. CEMEX’s commitment to conservation, their projects, programs, best practices, and lessons learned are an example and inspiration for us all.
Honoree Industry and Size: Construction and Manufacturing – Enterprise
CEMEX is a global construction materials company that is building a better future through sustainable products and solutions. CEMEX is committed to achieving carbon neutrality through relentless innovation and industry-leading research and development. CEMEX is at the forefront of the circular economy in the construction value chain, including pioneering ways to increase the use of waste and residues as alternative raw materials and fuels with the use of new technologies. CEMEX offers cement, aggregates, ready-mix concrete, and urbanization solutions in Texas and growing markets around the world, with a workforce focused on providing a superior customer experience enabled by digital technologies. CEMEX USA was named U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year in 2019, 2020, and 2021 for its ongoing environmental, conservation, and sustainability efforts.
What is CEMEX’s conservation and sustainability mission and why is it important to your culture?
CEMEX recognizes that climate action is the biggest need of our time. We are committed to leading the industry in climate action to create sustainable value for us and for society. We set ambitious 2030 targets which are at the core of our Future in Action program aimed at decarbonization.
For CEMEX, reaching environmental excellence is one of our main objectives. In addition to our Climate Action Strategy, we dedicate significant efforts to address key sustainability-related issues, from biodiversity and conservation to renewable energy and emissions monitoring. Our vision to Build a Better Future for all our stakeholders can be achieved only by acting responsibly and transparently—while caring for our people, our communities, and our natural resources. CEMEX invests directly and through collaborative relationships to fulfill this vision.
CEMEX’s conservation and sustainability mission are in action at the El Carmen Land and Conservation Company (ECLCC), which actively manages a 27,000-acre area of desert landscape nestled between Big Bend National Park and Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in southeastern Brewster County, Texas. This land is brimming with incredibly diverse flora and fauna of the Chihuahuan Desert, including black bears, cougars, bighorn sheep, and hundreds of species of resident and migratory birds that call ECLCC home. The ECLCC is a partnership between CEMEX and Mr. Josiah Austin, and it has a mission to restore the Chihuahuan Desert landscape and protect ecological corridors in a transboundary area connecting west Texas and northern Coahuila, Mexico. This conservation area connects with the El Carmen Nature Reserve along the Rio Grande Corridor in Mexico, which is managed by CEMEX’s Mexico operations. ECLCC was selected as a Texan by Nature Conservation Wrangler in 2018.
How are conservation and sustainability a part of CEMEX’s business strategy?
Our commitment to sustainability is one of the fundamental pillars of our business strategy at CEMEX because it is essential to create lasting value. We recognize our responsibility to join in on collective action to positively impact the world. Thus, sustainability is linked to all functions across CEMEX’s business lines. The strategy, which includes conservation, helps manage risks and opportunities and coordinates environmental, social, and financial demands while relying on a solid governance framework.
“Sustainability and conservation are deeply integrated into our business strategy at CEMEX to create lasting value for our company and communities. At CEMEX, we work to be part of the solution and embrace our responsibility to help build a better future. Our operations have implemented programs here in Texas and across the world that are aimed at preserving biodiversity and ecosystems while demonstrating how the industry can coexist with nature. We are proud of our efforts and continue to look for additional opportunities and partnerships that can help us all reach a more sustainable future.”
– Jerae Carlson, CEMEX USA Vice President of Sustainability, Communications & Public Affairs
What are CEMEX’s short and long-term goals as they relate to conservation and sustainability?
CEMEX recently announced it is increasing its already ambitious target to reduce CO2 emissions:
In addition to emission reductions, CEMEX’s 2030 Sustainability Ambitions also emphasize sustainable construction, biodiversity, and a strong commitment to the circular economy.
Who at CEMEX is leading your conservation and sustainability efforts and what are some examples of employee engagement in conservation and sustainability at your company?
CEMEX attributes the success of its conservation efforts to outside collaboration, conservation partnerships, and several internal sustainability stewards. In Texas, CEMEX collaborates with universities, such as Texas Tech University, local educators and students, conservation experts, and NGOs, along with a variety of governmental agencies to select activities that best meet the needs of the given region’s biodiversity challenges, ensuring they contribute to areas of greatest conservation need.
Internally, the following individuals are integral to the success of CEMEX Texas’ conservation efforts:
CEMEX employees participate in a wide range of conservation and education projects across the U.S., showcasing the company’s continuing commitment to sustainability. Our voluntary programs seek out conservation and education projects year-round that align with the important needs and priorities in our communities. The CEMEX Nature Center in New Braunfels is an outdoor classroom that provides an alternative learning environment where employees and students can discover some of Texas’ delicate ecosystems. We provide a multi-disciplinary approach to learning by providing meaningful habitat-based educational opportunities. Teaching STEAM in an integrated manner has been shown to improve student academic achievement, motivation to learn, and self-efficacy. Students who struggle in the traditional classroom setting can thrive when learning shifts to an integrated outdoor STEAM experience. The CEMEX Balcones employee engagement efforts include:
CEMEX Balcones hosted more than 70 special events with more than 2,000 visitors in 2019. Due to the pandemic, CEMEX held virtual tours and events in 2020. Limited in-person activities returned in 2021, and we hope to reach or exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
What conservation and sustainability programs and projects does CEMEX lead and participate in?
CEMEX participates and leads several sustainability and conservation projects in Texas that preserve water, land, and wildlife and also contributes to the circular economy through the use of alternative fuels as a substitute for fossil fuels.
Our Balcones operations in New Braunfels, which have been integral in supporting Texas construction projects since 1968, incorporate sustainable programs to help conserve resources and retain the land’s biodiversity. The cement manufacturing plant and large stone-producing quarry sit on approximately 3,000 acres within two ecological zones, the Edwards Plateau and Blackland Prairie.
CEMEX’s sustainability commitment extends throughout its operations across the state and the U.S., with energy efficiency and conservation initiatives. CEMEX USA earned the 2021 U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year Award—Sustained Excellence, marking the third consecutive year the company earned the prestigious recognition from the ENERGY STAR® program. CEMEX USA operations also help divert waste from landfills by using alternative fuels. Balcones Cement Plant integrates alternative fuels like woody biomass and scrapped tires (otherwise known as tire derived fuel) as a means of recovering energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting a circular economy.
El Carmen Land and Conservation Company (ECLCC):
CEMEX USA continues to support land and wildlife conservation with the ECLCC, a partnership between CEMEX and Mr. Josiah Austin, that aims to restore the native desert landscape and protect ecological corridors along the Texas-Mexico border. The strategic location along the Rio Grande provides vital protection for the free movement of wildlife. ECLCC has constructed a permanent wetland, five large food plots planted with native grasses, wildflowers, and plants with abundant seed production to provide food and water sources for migrating birds. In addition, the partnership is growing and transplanting native cottonwood trees to re-establish them along the Rio Grande corridor. ECLCC continues to work with numerous conservation partners to improve habitat and water sources for birds and wildlife in the region.
How do you see the future of conservation and sustainability evolving, and what role will CEMEX play in that progress?
CEMEX views conservation and sustainability as priorities for our business and the betterment of our world. We continue to seek opportunities to conserve land, water and energy to help our communities while offering sustainable building solutions aimed at reducing CO2 emissions. CEMEX is also focusing on innovation, developing and implementing conservation programs that respect and protect wildlife around our operations and creating and adopting digital alternatives that can reduce the use of resources.
How does CEMEX quantify investment and return on conservation and sustainability?
At CEMEX, we recognize the intrinsic value of nature and the importance of conserving biodiversity, ecosystems, and ecosystem services to allow for the sustainable development of society. We invest and promote programs that conserve and, where possible, enhance biodiversity in our operations. Our programs include biodiversity actions plans (BAPs) in quarries located in high biodiversity value areas, third-party certifications from environmental organizations, such as Texan by Nature and Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC), and water action plans for our locations in high-stress water areas. See all of CEMEX’s WHC certified sites here.
Going forward, we aim to continue the expansion and protection of these natural carbon reservoirs.
The economic valuation of ecosystem services is a useful tool to support conservation because it makes explicit the importance and close relationship between the integrity of nature and human welfare while providing environmental services with a monetary unit that enables comparison with other goods. Following this premise, research was conducted and the contingent valuation method was used to estimate the value that society gives to environmental services provided by the biodiversity and landscape for El Carmen Nature Reserve. This research indicates that:
What is the one lesson that CEMEX has learned from your conservation and sustainability efforts that others can take back and think about applying within their own space?
CEMEX recognizes the importance of biodiversity and conservation, and the two principles are deeply integrated into our business strategy. Since our commitment is fully incorporated into our business, our programs demonstrate how industry and nature can co-exist and thrive side-by-side. Our strategic partnerships provide additional support for our initiatives, and we are able to leverage those relationships to create and foster positive change. In addition, our sustainability programs encourage employee and community member involvement, strengthening engagement and empowering participants to take action to positively affect the environment.
Why is Texas an important home or base of operations for CEMEX?
CEMEX’s operations and products, including those in Texas, have been integral for the construction of major projects across the United States. CEMEX’s operational footprint spans from California through Texas and into Florida. Within Texas, CEMEX employs more than 1,200 men and women across a strong network that includes a cement plant, 7 distribution terminals, two strategically located quarries, and more than 20 ready-mix concrete plants. Texas-based employees account for almost 15% of CEMEX’s U.S. workforce. With the state’s rich diversity and vibrant economy, Texas is a great place for the heart of CEMEX’s U.S. operations.
Learn more about CEMEX’s conservation and sustainability efforts here.
Each year 2,000 students, educators, and other visitors tour CEMEX’s Balcones Dry Comal Creek Wildlife Habitat Center for hands-on learning.
The estimated economic value of the environmental services provided by the biodiversity and landscape of the El Carmen Nature Reserve is approximately $60 million per year. Including the annual CO2 sequestration and capture process, this value increases to $70 million per year.
Each year from 2017-2019, the CEMEX Foundation provided $45,000 to support the Edwards Aquifer Conservancy Education Program.
El Carmen Nature Reserve, CEMEX’s 346,000 acres biodiversity reserve located on the U.S.-Mexico border, stores around 11 million tons of biologically sequestered CO2, equivalent to 30% of our annual worldwide CO2 emissions. CEMEX’s El Carmen Land and Conservation Co. manages an approximately 27,000 acre landscape-scale conservation area along the Texas-Mexico border, home to 256 species of birds and 11 black bears, among other species.
CEMEX annually restores over 1,230 acres of land globally, including more than 98 acres of priority biodiversity habitat.
CEMEX’s New Braunfels operation features 10 acres of restored prairie.
Nationwide, CEMEX has partnered with Wildlife Habitat Council to create over 25 habitat areas, and they have reared and released hundreds of butterflies.
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