David Parker: Around Town with KLS Earthworks

The Indigenous-owned companies recently announced milestones that are not only turning heads but reshaping the construction landscape in Calgary and beyond

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Recycling is a key buzzword today and KLS Earthworks & Environmental (KLS) and its sister company, Calgary Aggregate Recycling (CAR) are disrupting traditional construction practices by setting new standards in sustainable construction and remediation practices. The Indigenous-owned companies recently announced milestones that are not only turning heads but reshaping the construction landscape in Calgary and beyond.

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CAR opened Canada’s first-ever soil recycling facility in 2023 with the support of Emissions Reduction Alberta, expanding its recycling efforts to include the remediation of Class II contaminated (non-hazardous) soil. In its first year, this innovative facility processed 111,650 tonnes of Class II contaminated soil and hydrovac slurry, diverting nearly 100 per cent of the material from landfills.

KLS was founded in 1990 but, in need of a heathy injection of new people and ideas, it was purchased in 2012 by the family of brothers Travis and Christopher Powell and their father Pat. Today, it is a leader in excavation specialization in providing services for civil infrastructure including below tarmac for roads, bridges, highway interchanges and developments for construction in high traffic and heavily populated areas. KLS has lots of experience with high rise foundations, able to provide basement excavations within a small footprint working with unique challenges and tolerances associated with excavation support for complex shoring systems.

It has the team and expertise capable to execute contaminated site remediation and reclamation, in-stream/riparian projects and pipeline integrity programs.

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KLS has been built up to be recognized as an excavation leader and in 2017 president Travis and COO Christopher, with the guidance of father Pat (who has more than 40 years of operational and executive experience, as well as being a board member of a number of private and public companies and serving as CEO of Calfrac Well Services) acquired CAR.

The sister company has created sustainable construction alternatives from disposal to purchase of materials. Last year, over 90 per cent of the processed material was repurposed into new products that were returned to market suitable for many uses in new construction and landscaping. The remaining material is used as a substitute in cement powder through a partnership with Lafarge Canada.

CAR’s new facility is making great strides in diverting contaminated soils, concrete and asphalt rubble from Calgary and area landfills. In 2023 the soil reuse facility reduced GHG emissions by 6,696 metric tonnes, that’s equivalent to removing over 2,000 cars from the road. Primarily achieved by reducing the need for trucking of waste to area landfills as far as Brooks and Coronation, it also means huge savings in fuel costs.

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Recycling practices need huge amounts of water, but CAR uses over 95 per cent recycled water. The company recycles hydrovac slurry and reclaims the water to be used as dust suppression on the crusher.

The plant is expected to recycle 600,000 tonnes of excavated construction materials annually, redirect 50,000 tonnes of soil from landfills, and reduce GHG emissions for Alberta by an estimated 22,567 tonnes — a 65 per cent reduction compared to conventional disposal methods.

The impressive successes of KLS and CAR are measured through government regulated scales, monthly surveys and and ERP software.

The Powells plan to increase processing capacity to 840,000 tonnes annually by 2026, expanding into new markets and developing new service lines focused on sustainable construction and building products.

Notes:

  • Congratulations are offered to Gordon Hoffman, who has received a well-deserved Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Calgary.The award recognizes Hoffman’s exceptional contributions as a lawyer, philanthropist and community leader, supporting nearly 100 charitable and community organizations over the past four decades. Among his notable achievements, Hoffman founded the Project Warmth Society of Alberta, the Alberta Champions Society and Operation Kickstart of Alberta.

    Project Warmth has distributed over one million items of clothing to those in need since its inception and has hosted over 10,000 children and their families at an annual performance of A Christmas Carol. A very caring and generous man, he has also raised over $1 million for Foothills Academy through his invitational golf tournament, supporting children with learning disabilities and ADHD.

  • Boom Group, Western Canada’s leading member rewards program, has announced an exciting new partnership with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, providing members with a comprehensive suite of exclusive savings.

David Parker’s columns appear regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622.

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