Texan by Nature is excited to recognize Cemex as a 2023 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– Enterprise
Company Overview: Cemex is a global building materials company that provides high-quality products and reliable services with a rich history of improving the wellbeing of those it serves through innovative building solutions, efficiency advancements and sustainability efforts. Its U.S. network includes 10 cement plants, close to 50 strategically located cement terminals, nearly 50 aggregate quarries and more than 280 ready-mix concrete plants. Cemex USA has been repeatedly recognized for its efforts in sustainability and energy management, including earning U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.
Cemex USA, for the fifth consecutive year, has been named U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for 2023, earning the Sustained Excellence in Energy Management from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy for the company’s ongoing and longstanding efforts in energy management and sustainability.
(From left to right: Betsy Dutrow, Director, ENERGY STAR Industrial Partnerships, Kori Andrews, Cemex USA Director Sustainability & Public Affairs, Jay Martin, Cemex USA Director Government Affairs)
What is Cemex’s conservation and sustainability mission and why is it important to your culture?
At Cemex, we are committed to building a better future, and part of that is addressing the pressing issue of climate change. As one of the world’s largest building solutions providers and the largest manufacturer of concrete in the western world, climate action is a priority for our company, and it has been for years. Cemex remains committed to leading the industry in climate action because it creates sustainable value for our company and society. Cemex’s climate action strategy, “Future in Action,” guides our progress towards becoming a net-zero CO2 company through actions such as investing in energy efficiency, increasing the use of alternative fuels, expanding our use of renewable energy, improving water conservation, promoting biodiversity, and increasing clinker substitution through alternative cementitious materials.
Our climate action strategy is founded on our commitment to pursue environmental excellence and embed sustainability in everything we do. At Cemex, we dedicate significant efforts to address key sustainability-related issues. In Texas, we are investing in sustainable initiatives through such activities as utilizing alternative fuels and raw materials, investing in water conservation, and supporting habitat restoration. 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.
Two examples of those collaborative relationships are the 33-acre Balcones Dry Comal Creek Wildlife Center (Cemex Nature Center) at the Cemex Balcones operations in New Braunfels, Texas and the El Carmen Land and Conservation Company (ECLCC) which actively manages a 27,000-acre area of desert landscape in southeastern Brewster County, Texas. The land managed by ECLCC is between Big Bend National Park and Black Gap Wildlife Management Area and is brimming with the incredibly diverse flora and fauna of the Chihuahuan Desert; black bears, cougars, bighorn sheep, and hundreds of species of resident and migratory birds all call ECLCC home. The ECLCC, a partnership between Cemex USA and Mr. Josiah Austin, has a mission to restore the Chihuahuan Desert landscape and protect ecological corridors in a transboundary conservation area connecting west Texas and northern Coahuila, Mexico. This conservation area connects with conservation land managed by Cemex’s Mexico operations along the Rio Grande Corridor in Coahuila, Mexico. Altogether, this 346,000-acre transboundary conservation area makes up the Cemex El Carmen Nature Reserve, Cemex’s Conservation Legacy.
How is conservation and sustainability a part of Cemex’s business strategy?
Sustainability is one of the fundamental pillars of our business strategy at Cemex because it is crucial to create lasting value. Cemex embraces our responsibility to join the collective action to address global societal challenges such as population growth, poverty, climate change, resource scarcity, and biodiversity loss. Our sustainability model guides our business priorities to address these needs in a way that will positively impact the world through creating shared value.
Beyond our commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Cemex is also a founding member of the World Economic Forum’s First Movers Coalition, a group of global companies dedicated to drive demand for zero-carbon technologies. Cemex is working toward ambitious goals to cut CO2 emissions in its cement business – targeting reductions of 35% by 2025 and 47% by 2030 when compared to 1990 levels. Our company is also committed to ensuring that at least half our ready-mix concrete and cement sales are linked to solutions with superior sustainability performance by 2025, while working toward delivering net-zero CO2 concrete globally by 2050. In Texas and around the world, Cemex aims to increase its already strong implementation of biodiversity and water action plans, through investment in water conservation at our plants and quarries in water-stressed areas and extensive biodiversity conservation efforts at our quarries and El Carmen Land and Conservation Company.
What are Cemex’s short and long-term goals as they relate to conservation and sustainability?
Cemex has sustainability woven into its business strategy and incorporates it as a fundamental principle in all functions across our business lines. The strategy helps manage risks and coordinates environmental, social, and financial demands, while relying on a solid governance framework.
To achieve the ambitious goal of becoming a net-zero CO2 company by 2050, Cemex has set numerous intermediate targets such as reducing CO2 emissions from cement by 35% by 2025 and by at least 47% by 2030 globally (compared to its 1990 baseline). Cemex is currently working to achieve its 2025 goals that emphasize emission reductions, sustainable construction, biodiversity, and a strong commitment to the circular economy. We also continue to implement our Future in Action program to support and drive progress on our journey to carbon neutrality through six strategic pillars: Sustainable Products and Solutions, Decarbonizing Our Operations, Circularity, Water and Biodiversity, Innovation and Partnerships, and Promoting a Green Economy. Cemex is striving to ensure that at least half our ready-mix concrete and cement sales are linked to solutions with superior sustainability performance by 2025, including our Vertua® sustainable solution concretes. In addition, Cemex continues to uphold its commitment to biodiversity programs with our longstanding partnership with the ECLCC and our Balcones Wildlife Center at our operations in New Braunfels.
The Company is dedicated to the circular economy, actively seeking opportunities to use alternative fuels in the cement manufacturing process. Alternative fuels are predominantly non-recyclable materials and waste or by-products from industrial, domestic, agricultural, and forestry processes that contain recoverable energy—including used tires, processed municipal solid waste, and biomass residues, such as hulls from nuts and wood chips. By diverting these materials from landfill for use as energy sources, Cemex reduces its use of fossil fuels and helps avoid greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, that these materials might generate through decomposition in a landfill.
A pollinator garden at the Cemex USA Balcones Nature Preserve.
At Cemex, we care deeply about the communities in which we live and work. We are incredibly proud to be recognized as a 2023 TxN Honoree for our dedication to sustainability and conservation. This is the fifth consecutive year Cemex has been honored by TxN, reinforcing our dedication to building a better future for Texas and for the world.
– Jerae Carlson, Cemex USA Senior Vice President of Sustainability, Communications and Public Affairs.
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 partnerships and internal sustainability stewards. In Texas, Cemex USA collaborates with universities, such as Texas Tech University, local educators and students, conservation experts and NGOs, and 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, highlighting the Company’s continuing commitment to sustainability. Our voluntary conservation programs and education projects are designed to 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 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. Cemex employees volunteer to conduct these programs at our Balcones sites, as well as volunteering for conservation-related events within the community.
In addition, the Cemex Nature Center includes a wheelchair-accessible vegetable garden with raised beds for the benefit of PEACE members, a United Way Partner organization serving adults with varying mental and physical abilities. The vegetable garden allows PEACE group members to learn how to grow, harvest and prepare their own food, while enabling Cemex to give back to the community by donating portions of the harvest to local shelters. During 2022, PEACE group members harvested over 5,400 pounds of produce from the vegetable garden.
What conservation and sustainability programs and projects does Cemex lead and participate in?
Cemex USA participates and leads several sustainability and conservation projects across Texas that preserve water, land, and wildlife, while continuing to contribute to the circular economy by substituting alternative fuels, where possible, in place of fossil fuels.
Our Balcones operations in New Braunfels have been integral in supporting Texas construction projects since 1968, and they 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.
At the Balcones Quarry, Cemex USA has gone above and beyond to conserve water, by building and utilizing a state-of-the-art water recycling system that saves more than one billion gallons of water annually compared to water consumption prior to its implementation. The system, which began operating in 2016, has reduced the operation’s water withdrawals from the two underlying aquifers, including the Edwards Aquifer, by up to 90% per year compared to water consumption prior to implementation. It was designed to recycle 12,000 gallons of water per minute.
At the Balcones Cement Plant, Cemex USA was awarded a $3.7 million cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Energy in collaboration with non-profit research institute RTI International to study an innovative carbon capture technology.
Cemex USA’s Balcones operations are also home to the company’s Balcones Dry Comal Creek Wildlife Center (Cemex Nature Center). The 33-acre center, which includes 20 acres of dedicated open space adjacent to the quarry and cement plant, increases the site’s biodiversity, promotes environmental stewardship, and provides educational opportunities for students and educators. In 2022, Cemex Balcones continued its high-quality on-site habitat conservation and community engagement programs, which achieved Silver Tier Conservation Certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council in 2021.
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 2023 U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year Award —Sustained Excellence in Energy Management, marking the fifth consecutive year the company has been recognized by the ENERGY STAR® program. In addition, Cemex Balcones Cement Plant integrates alternative fuels like woody biomass and scrap tires as a means of recovering energy, reducing greenhouse gases, and promoting a circular economy.
Cemex USA continues to support land and wildlife conservation with the El Carmen Land and Conservation Company (ECLCC), a partnership between Cemex USA and Mr. Josiah Austin with a mission to restore the native desert landscape and protect ecological corridors along the Texas-Mexico border. The ECLCC consists of approximately 27,000 acres of desert landscape in Brewster County, brimming with diverse flora and fauna like black bears, cougars, bighorn sheep and hundreds of species of resident and migratory birds. The strategic location along the Rio Grande provides vital protection for free movement of wildlife. The 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 for re-establishment along the Rio Grande corridor.
Cemex USA’s El Carmen Land and Conservation Company – a 27,000 acre preserve located in Brewster County, TX, is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna like black bears, cougars, bighorn sheep and hundreds of species of resident and migratory birds.
ECLCC and Texas Tech University (TTU) are also collaborating onsite on several scientific projects, including the impacts of climate change on zoonoses, pathogens and wildlife hosts; ecology of bats along the Rio Grande border and how water sources affect their distribution; and genetic uniqueness of mammal fauna, estimating the black bear population size using non-invasive DNA sequencing. An artificial bat cave prototype has been developed onsite that could serve as a model for bat conservation in many areas of the world. In 2022, ECLCC collaborated with Texas Tech University (TTU) on four major research and conservation projects being conducted at the preserve.
A Texas Tech University researcher collects data on a Pallid bat (Antrozous pallidus) captured on the El Carmen Land and Conservation Company preserve.
Billy Pat McKinney, ECLCC Conservation Manager, stands with an artificial bat cave constructed out of a buried shipping container.
ECLCC continues to work with numerous conservation partners to improve habitat and water sources for birds and wildlife in the region.
A constructed wetland for resident and migratory birds at the El Carmen Land and Conservation Company.
How do you see the future of conservation and sustainability evolving, and what role will Cemex play in that progress?
As the world continues to take major steps to address and prevent climate change, Cemex pursues opportunities to deepen our focus on sustainability through multiple means, including conservation activities that go beyond what is required and are recognized by leading environmental organizations. Underscoring the importance of these actions, Cemex follows and is committed to the Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA) Sustainability Guidelines for Quarry Rehabilitation and Biodiversity Management. In addition, Cemex continues its conservation efforts at ECLCC and its Balcones operations by implementing conservation programs that earn recognition from credible organizations such as Texan by Nature and the Wildlife Habitat Council. Recognition by third parties helps ensure the programs continue to evolve and provide future benefits for the planet. Our conservation activities provide a valuable opportunity to engage employees and local communities in wildlife enhancement initiatives. These initiatives foster awareness of how industry and natural habitats can coexist. As such, protecting biodiversity and the environment is fundamental to our commitment to carrying out our activities sustainably.
How does Cemex quantify investment and return on conservation and sustainability?
At Cemex, we recognize the deep value of nature, its lasting impact, 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, and water action plans for our locations in high-stress water areas.
As part of our Climate Action Strategy, we strongly support the role that natural carbon sinks can play in reducing the total CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Our quarry rehabilitation and biodiversity conservation efforts enable CO2 removal and enhance these natural carbon sinks. Similarly, El Carmen Nature Reserve, Cemex’s 346,000 acres biodiversity reserve located on the U.S.-Mexican border, stores around 11 million metric tons of biologically sequestered CO2, equivalent to 30% of our annual worldwide CO2 emissions. 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 to estimate—through the contingent valuation method—the value that society gives to environmental services provided by the biodiversity and landscape for El Carmen Nature Reserve. This research indicates that the value society attributes to the biodiversity and landscape at El Carmen is approximately $60 million per year. Considering the annual CO2 sequestration and capture process, this value increases to $70 million per year.
Cemex Balcones Nature Preserve raised beds garden.
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 has learned that our efforts in this space bring many positive benefits even beyond those for our natural environment, because conservation and sustainability resonate with everyone on some level.
Cemex strives to further our conservation programs as a source of pride for our employees and a way to engage the communities where we operate. To facilitate a strategic and continued focus on conservation and sustainability efforts, Cemexhas implemented an internal, digital community engagement tool to enrich the company’s outreach efforts to local communities where we operate. By utilizing this digital, cloud-based platform, we are enabling our teams with greater visibility, collaboration and analysis into our annual Community Engagement Plans.
The tool helps our teams co-design and execute planned programs and provides them the ability to quickly generate customized reports on the progress and outcomes of our programs, enabling better tracking and communication of our positive impacts to the community. Each of these programs are strategically focused and aligned with community needs and our sustainability and social impact goals. Although process and technology improvements are not always evident to external stakeholders, utilizing this internal tool allows us to more fully embed sustainability into our operations and more tangibly communicate our conservation story to the community.
Why is Texas an important home or base of operations for Cemex?
Cemex USA’s operations and products have been integral for the construction of major projects across Texas for decades. While our operational footprint stretches coast-to-coast, our 1,300 employees in Texas, account for 15% of the Company’s U.S. workforce. Cemex USA has a strong Texas network that includes a corporate office, one cement plant, seven distribution terminals, two strategically located quarries and more than 20 ready-mix concrete plants. The state’s rich diversity and vibrant economy make Texas a great place for the heart of Cemex’s U.S. operations.
To find out more about Cemex conservation and sustainability efforts click here.
supporting the 1,200 Texans employed by Cemex. Additionally, 15,000 employees received education at the new Sustainability Academy
This reserve is a 346,000-acre biodiversity reserve located on the U.S-Mexican border.
and an additional 25% decrease in their carbon footprint through the use of 200 lower-carbon trucks as of 2022
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas