Holcim Foundation


A step towards sustainable development: Cement production facilities in Mexico

“Producing cement in the desert” is a new publication of the Holcim Foundation that tells the story of how values of sustainability translated into reality at the Holcim Apasco cement plant project in Hermosillo, Mexico – from planning and construction to commissioning, and now in operation. The greenfield plant went into service in the first quarter of 2011, cost USD 400 million, and is designed to produce 1.6 million tonnes of high-quality cement annually.

The Hermosillo cement plant sets new standards for safety design, thermal efficiency, water efficiency, and environmental stewardship. All auxiliary buildings on site meet the “target issues” for sustainable construction, developed by the Holcim Foundation to ensure a holistic approach to sustainable development, incorporating elements of economic efficiency, environmental performance and social responsibility. The “target issues” are also used in the Holcim Awards by the independent juries to evaluate competition entries.

The richly-illustrated soft-cover publication features a brief technical description of all production stages and an explanation of the green buildings, giving an inspiring view of the latest milestone on Holcim’s journey toward sustainable development. It is a valuable book for learning about and promoting sustainable construction and advocating sustainable cement production; it is a convincing proof of the technical competence and social and environmental responsibility of Holcim.

Integrating sustainability into a production plant

The administrative building at the Hermosillo plant is a regional landmark of sustainable construction. The most notable of its many green features are the 200-kilowatt photovoltaic system, the largest such commercial installation in Mexico, and the innovative air-conditioning system, the first commercial solar-driven absorption chiller system in Latin America. Daylight is channeled to the center of the building, water consumption is minimized, and graywater is treated in a sanitizing pond and then used for irrigation.

Thermal and electrical energy use and water consumption have been optimized by using the latest generation of technologies in production and control. Cooling water is recycled in a closed-loop system. All storage areas for primary materials and fuel are covered for dust control. The site has been replanted with native species to preserve biodiversity of the local ecosystem and to compensate for the ecological footprint of the plant.

Internationally-renowned construction experts who were members of the Holcim Awards jury for Latin America traveled to Hermosillo to visit the new plant shortly after it went into operation. They found that never before in a cement plant had the “target issues” for sustainable construction been applied so thoroughly as here in the Sonoma desert. The sustainable usage of resources in an industrial environment impressed the jury members. “Although the specifics may differ, the principles of sustainable construction apply universally, regardless of climate, culture, or economic situation,” said architect Bruno Stagno of Costa Rica.

Producing cement in the desert – Holcim Apasco plant in Hermosillo, Mexico

Published by Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, 2011
98 pages, 15cm x 21 cm, in English
ISBN: 978-3-7266-0093-8

The Holcim Foundation is supported by Holcim Ltd and its Group companies in more than 70 countries and is independent of its commercial interests. Holcim is one of the world’s leading suppliers of cement and aggregates (crushed stone, gravel and sand) as well as further activities such as ready-mix concrete and asphalt, including services.

In 2010, Holcim launched a fund to which some CHF 100 million is allocated each year to promote energy efficiency and help ensure the realization of innovative projects across the Group in the field of heat recovery, the utilization of alternative fuels and raw materials, as well as wind power and hydroelectricity. Funds were earmarked in 2010 for five heat recovery plants in Vietnam, India, Romania, Lebanon and Switzerland. These installations are under construction and will be commissioned between the end of 2011 and 2013. Another six projects were approved this year. They include four waste heat recovery units in Canada, Slovakia, Mexico and India, as well as two installations for the utilization of alternative fuels and raw materials in Germany and France. These facilities will be commissioned in 2013 and 2014.

Last Updated: December 06, 2011
Article Details
Hermosillo, Mexico
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