Good morning. Thank you to the committee for inviting me to speak to you today on behalf of Holcim Canada.
To provide some context, I want to share briefly with you what Holcim Canada is. Holcim Canada Inc. is one of the country's largest vertically integrated building materials and construction companies. With 3,000 employees, we manufacture cement, aggregates, and ready-mix concrete and provide construction services to many of Canada's largest infrastructure projects. Our business divisions include Dufferin Aggregates, Dufferin Concrete, and Dufferin Construction in Ontario, and the Demix brand, offering concrete, aggregates, and construction services in Quebec.
In short, we build the materials that build the world around us. Concrete, one of the key products of our vertically integrated value chain, is the second most used material in the world, second only to water. We are proud of the materials we make and the solutions we provide and of how they're able to build the foundations of society.
The manufacturing of our materials is an important contribution to the social, economic, and environmental values that our company provides to Canadians. This is an important context for today's discussion about the opportunity for private enterprises to be leaders in collaboration with not-for-profit organizations and to create value through local environmental initiatives.
As a materials company, we have an undoubted environmental impact with the production of materials. We support the role of government in holding our industry accountable via compliance mechanisms. They play a vital role in ensuring that there is a level playing field among the competitors in our industry.
We produce materials by taking the most sustainable and economically feasible approach possible. We pride ourselves in being an environmental leader in our industry and in general across the manufacturing sector. This has much to do with the way in which we manufacture our materials and how, for example, we're able to reduce our reliance on non-renewable resources through the use of secondary materials such as blast-furnace slag, a byproduct of the steel industry, to produce a cement substitute; to improve our energy efficiency through the reuse of heat generated from our process to dry our incoming materials; and to reduce our carbon footprint overall through a reduction of non-renewable resources and increased energy efficiency, but also in the substitution of coal for non-recyclable residues from other industries as fuel in our cement kilns.
That is the manufacturing element of our business. However, we are able to create an impact and provide solutions beyond our own perimeter. By this, I refer to the opportunity for our materials to be used in pervious parking lots to improve stormwater management, an increased use of concrete in structures to improve the building envelope, and inflexible roadways made of concrete to improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles. This complementary view of direct and indirect impact is a core part of our business strategy and a measure of the true value of a leader in sustainable development.
There is much more we can do, as we have done, beyond our core business as a member of the communities in which we operate. We take pride in our role as a good corporate neighbour and a leader in sustainable development. Holcim Canada has built a solid reputation for its commitment to the communities where we are located, to the people, the economy, and the natural environment. We proactively look for opportunities to reduce our impact on the environment and seek partnerships with trusted local NGOs where our organizations can add value and amplify each other's efforts for the net gain of our natural environment and our communities.
I would like to share with this committee a few examples of such partnerships and how they've come to be, and the net gain that was achieved for those involved.
The first such example is a very simple one, a park. A park was being built by the municipality less than a few hundred metres from our cement facility in Mississauga. We decided to get engaged, as it was a facility that our community and our employees would use for many years to come. Our involvement was to provide materials for the facility.
The material we wanted to provide was innovative in its design. The material is a porous concrete that allows rainwater to penetrate the surface and return to the ground rather than being diverted to the storm sewer, a great innovation that reduces the need for stormwater infrastructure and surges of water being moved to a large body while the groundwater remains unreplenished.
However, there were very few installations of this material in the region. We, along with the park architects and the municipality's project team, saw this as an opportunity rather than a setback. We hosted education events for the municipal roadwork staff; visited a site where the material had been installed in order to discuss best practices; engaged industry associations to provide training to the construction crews on installation techniques; and invited numerous stakeholders to witness the installation to better understand the material.
Holcim also designed an educational interactive outdoor display that shows how this material works and what benefits it provides for the environment. This collaboration has created a unique demonstration of materials and design innovation in a setting that can be assessed by our stakeholders, including our customers and members of the community, to learn more about the material and, most importantly, see it in action.
This feature is now a destination for the local conservation authority as part of its low-impact development tour that is attended by architects, engineers, and developers in the region. As such, it provides us with a business opportunity to promote a product that our company is able to deliver with high quality, as can be seen by the interest of our potential customers during this visit. Most importantly, it demonstrates that both the municipality and the conservation authority have trust in our abilities as an organization to deliver innovative environmental solutions.
The second example is that of the Holcim Waterfront Estate, a facility where member of Parliament Stella Ambler, who is on this committee, announced the funding that Holcim Canada and the Credit Valley Conservation Authority will be receiving for another project, which I will come back to in a moment as my third example.
The Holcim Waterfront Estate was again a collaboration between Holcim and the City of Mississauga. I will not delve into the details of this facility, aside from saying that it's a beautifully restored manor and a key piece of local heritage and history that has been revitalized using modern-day sustainable practices, for the enjoyment of generations to come. We are happy to be part of it.
The collaboration in this project demonstrated a level of trust that was built as a result of a previous park construction experience. Recycled aggregate was a primary source of stone for the project in using crushed recycled concrete rather than mined virgin aggregate. Low CO2 cement mixes were used for smaller features. A mix using recycled water and manufactured sand was used in some of the concrete designs, both offsetting the equivalent in natural quantities of material needed.
This example highlights the potential of adopting innovative environmental solutions in projects so that other stakeholders can understand the potential for such features within their own projects. Innovation, however, is not at the expense of quality and safety. All the features mentioned still appear and function in the same manner as designed.
What these projects have provided is an exceptional collaborative environment between Holcim and our non-private partners. This has led to continuous conversation with and support of one another by Holcim, the municipality, and the conservation authority. We provide access to conservation authority personnel to monitor birds, bats, fish, and shoreline conditions around our properties. These activities are part of larger studies; however, because of our open dialogue and our environmental commitments and the seriousness with which we take them, and based on the success of previous collaboration, Holcim was willing to grant access to have our properties included in these studies.
We also benefited when an opportunity for funding became available through the Government of Canada, as the information collected and, more importantly, the established collaborative relationship between Holcim and the Credit Valley Conservation Authority facilitated their support for Holcim to have nine acres of waterfront land enhanced to create a stopover and feeding area for migratory species at risk. This project clearly benefits these species, the mandate of the conservation authority, and the national conservation plan, but it also allows Holcim to further solidify our environmental leadership position with a project that independently would not be within our scope of knowledge or financial resources to complete.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to present to this committee and for the support the Government of Canada has provided for the natural enhancement project I just mentioned, on nine acres of land of our property on the shoreline of Lake Ontario, as a model of natural restoration and environmental leadership.
In summary, the collaborative nature of relationships between Holcim and our not-for-profit or public partners, in combination with our sustainability-minded business approach, has allowed us to take a leadership role in the private sector. All the examples provided have been realized within 500 metres of our Mississauga cement plant. These are local projects with local stakeholders that have a local and global impact.
We also appreciate the value we're able to bring to the table when discussing such collaboration. When there are innovative, creative organizations sitting at the table with us that are able to provide expertise in their area, the reputational value of their organizations, and an understanding of business needs, as well as the potential for funding to bridge economic gaps, then sustainable development opportunities are bound to find light.