Three Projects that Help Protect the Natural World
About Environmental Sustainability
At High, environmental sustainability is making decisions and taking actions that are in the interest of protecting the natural world, with particular emphasis on preserving the environment to support human life. The approach comes down to two main points:
- Utilizing reusable materials and trying to avoid wasting energy; and
- Taking steps to avoid contaminating the air, soil, and water
Our organization pursued three recent projects that make use of environmental sustainability and represent High’s commitment to stewardship of the world we share.
1. Process Fluid Containment
The business of producing bridge girders occasionally results in leaks and spills of oils, coolants, or paints. While typically gradual and minor in size, they constitute an environmental concern and a possible slipping hazard for co-workers.
Teams working at High Steel Structures use disposable absorbent pads to contain these fluids and prevent them from contaminating the workspace. Referred to in the trade as “pig mats,” the pads are strategically placed where fluid release is possible. Eventually, they become saturated and are then thrown away in the trash, ending up at the local landfill.
Reducing this waste was the goal of a recent project that tested a new product with greater absorptive ability that could also withstand the plants’ harsh working environments. Compared to traditional pads, the new product absorbs two-and-a-half times the amount of fluid, reducing handling and the resulting manpower required to change them. The pads can be walked on, and even driven on, if necessary.
What happens to the dirty pads? The soiled pads are placed in plastic drums for collection by a third-party contractor who launders them at a facility designed to recover the oils and fluids. The cleaned pads are returned for re-use, and the fluids are transformed into fuels for other industries. Annual reporting shows savings of time and money while reducing waste heading to landfills.
2. Stormwater Management
Stormwater is rain or snowmelt that flows over land instead of percolating into the ground. It’s both precious and powerful: an inch of rain falling on an acre of land contains 27,154 gallons of water and weighs 113 tons. Stormwater collects pollutants such as sediment, oil, grease, fertilizers, pesticides, litter, and trash. Untreated, it can contaminate our drinking water and farmland.
High Concrete Group’s Denver, PA plant directs stormwater into three large basins that retain the water to allow pollutants to settle out. However, during especially heavy rainfall, sediment could be carried beyond the basins to nearby vegetation and a local stream.
High Concrete invested $250,000 in improvements to the collection and distribution system, deepening the largest basin, modifying the outlet, and introducing wetland plants. Since completion, the new system has significantly improved the quality of stormwater discharge.
More than a project, the "Three R's" are a priority and a way of life.
High Industries facilities in Springboro, Ohio, and in Lancaster and Williamsport, Pennsylvania, recycle many traditional items such as scrap steel that is sent to our steel suppliers who reuse it in the production of steel plates that ultimately are resold to High. The wood used in various ways in manufacturing processes is made into mulch.
However, High recycles many non-traditional items as well. Waste oil from the service of mobile equipment and vehicles (some of it even squeezed from oil filters) is collected and recycled. Used tires are ground into pieces and reused. Waste paint from the painting of steel girders is processed into alternative fuel and used by cement kilns. Anti-freeze, batteries, and light bulbs are other items that are collected and recycled.
High’s recycling efforts eliminate these wastes from entering landfills and incinerators. Whether measured in gallons or tons, the numbers are impressive.
An Environment of Innovation Since 1931
At High, we are fortunate to work with a team of talented and engaged coworkers, as well as the very best customers, business partners, and community leaders throughout our many locations in the eastern and Midwestern United States.
While our headquarters and our organizational roots are planted firmly in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania—a vibrant and distinctively hardworking community that strongly influences who we are as a company—the values we espouse, including honest hard work, trustworthy relationship-building, and innovative leadership, are shared by all co-workers throughout our businesses.