Shoring up embankments not only sustains the environment, but actually saves energy.

Imagine the slopes along highways, reinforced hillsides at commercial and industrial sites and levees that support waterways.  What you see – and especially what you cannot see behind the walls -- is construction material primarily made of concrete, steel and even polymers.

The legacy engineering and technologies for earth management have been around for decades.  And the materials employed in the market today for these projects necessarily require great amounts of energy to manufacture, ship and install. Today there are hundreds of companies searchable under the headings of “mechanically stabilized embankments” (MSE), reinforced hillsides, walls and levees.

However, today’s business environment requires companies be seen as responsible citizens by demonstrating practices of sustainability, minimizing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions -- and saving energy. An examination of current leaders in this industry (below) shows the need by some to appear green, but really are not.  There is one newcomer that promises significant reductions in GHG emissions – and energy conservation --  in its operations. For this reason ArmaTerra is being introduced introduced to CleanTechnica.com followers.

 

ArmaTerra GeoReinforcing (ATG)

Reno-based and founded in 2009, ATG has the distinction of being the most energy efficient MSE provider because of their patented application of recycled tires.  Worn out tires often end up in land fills, sometimes are re-purposed as “crumb rubber” or burned as fuel – contributing to GHG pollution.  Competitors shore up hillsides and walls with concrete, polymer and steel geogrids, which are more costly and energy intensive to manufacture and ship.  Instead, ATG capitalizes on the vast waste market of 300 million used tires in the U.S. for its raw materials. To create AGT’s GeoTire product for the job site, contracted tire recyclers are trained to re-purpose (cut and bind) tires to required specs and drop ship directly to the job site. Because of low costs inherent in the recycled tire business, the end cost charged to ATG customers can be up to 20% less than traditional construction materials of steel and polymer.  Strength, durability and corrosion resistance of ATG’s GeoTire are found to be superior to competitive reinforcing products. While employing long-standing best practices of earth reinforcement engineering, what ATG uniquely brings to the industry are the energy conservation benefits of recycling.  Energy is saved by not having to manufacture steel or polymer geogrid products.  Minimal electricity is expended in re-purposing (cutting and binding) the tires for the job site.  Transportation fuel is reduced since used tires are already at the tire recycler and the recycler is selected for proximity to the job. ATG is the 2013 Clean Tech Open (Western Division) winner in the green building category.  ATG is an early stage company seeking Crowd-funding prior to Series A offering in 2014.


Tensar

Atlanta-based Tensar, founded in 1983, claims to have invented the “process technologies associated with the manufacture of integrally formed polymeric grid and mesh structures.”  Their industry leadership derives from the flexibility, relatively low cost, strength and durability of polymer-materials. These qualities afford wide application of their reinforcement materials, including highway and railroad beds, hillsides and retaining walls, coastal and waterway construction.  They also re-market biodegradable products for soil erosion retardation and hillside vegetation retention on behalf of another company, North American Green (NAG).  We don’t know the carbon footprint of Tensar’s operations, however we can assume that their manufacture of synthetic polymer products and energy-intensive concrete is similar to other companies for GHG emissions. No specific reference is made of being energy efficient.

 

Reinforced Earth Company

Based in Reston VA and founded in 1971, REC has completed over 30,000 projects and claims to be the inventor of the “mechanically stabilized earth” (MSE) retaining wall industry. In addition to retaining walls, their product line also includes sound walls and precast arches for highways, bridges, railways, public, commercial, industrial and military applications. Company products are made with an “innovative civil engineering material,” however they are essentially made from steel and cement. The website acknowledges “sustainability” and the “environmental impact” of manufacturing cement.  However, their solution is neither clean tech nor energy efficient, per se, but claims to use less cement than competitors for wall structures and in some cases uses ground up recycled materials for back fill.

 

Other leading MSE companies – none claim energy efficiency in their product line

SSL, 1997, Scott’s Valley, CA -- manufactures concrete and steel materials; no green, sustainability or energy saving claims.

Propex, 1958, Morristown, TN -- touts environmental enhancement and erosion control, but makes no claim of sustainability or clean technology.

Tencate, 1982, the Netherlands -- as a global textile manufacturer, geosynthetics and earth reinforcement is a fraction of their business; makes no claim of green technology or energy savings.

 

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