LEIGH HILL, Pa.
— For the past year, a Pennsylvania cement factory has been churning out the perfect green cement blocks.
It’s a process that’s made them a local fixture at a restaurant, a popular neighborhood bar and even a major home improvement contractor.
But now, for the first time in a decade, the factory is closing and the doors are closing.
The factory, Lehigh Cement Co., has closed its doors and is moving its production to a plant in Philadelphia, where it will manufacture the blocks for cementing, said John DeHaan, vice president of marketing and communications for Lehigh City.
The closure is an indication that more companies are trying to keep up with the demand for green cement, DeHaans said.
He says the demand is growing at a faster rate than the supply of the materials.
“What’s going on is a little bit of a plateau,” DeHaang said.
“We’re getting to the point where we have enough demand, but not enough supply to make it happen.”
The factory was one of several in Pennsylvania that made green cement and other building materials.
It made the blocks in the 1970s and 1980s.
It was also one of the only ones in the country to produce lime green blocks that had been green painted to match the color of the cement, said Chris McGehee, who heads the Pennsylvania Green Construction Association.
It took years of green paint treatments to create the green blocks, which were made of cement, cement powder, lime, paint and epoxy.
They’re used for building and other construction.
But after a few years, green paint started to chip and break off and break down.
In the last 10 years, the paint chips have started to break down, and so have the lime green.
The green blocks are used for concrete, as well as for other projects.
They are used as exterior paint, for roofs and for roofs that are made of a thin plastic sheet.
The blocks are not made in large quantities and are sold to contractors, but they are becoming a big seller, said Jason Cram, an attorney with the National Association of Home Builders, a trade group.
Cram says the blocks are in demand because of their versatility.
“It’s great for projects where you need a green color, a light green color that’s very appealing,” he said.
But the process is time consuming.
Crimson blocks can be about five to seven years in production, he said, but lime green can take four to five years.
“They’re actually made in a very large amount of space, and there’s a lot of environmental impact that goes into that process,” he added.
“If they can be made in smaller amounts, you can save on that process, but you’ll have to invest in a lot more capital investment and machinery and chemicals,” he explained.
The Lehigh cement factory in Lehigh Township, Pa., is expected to be decommissioned by the end of 2018.
The company is moving production to the Philadelphia facility, and will begin using green paint and lime green, said spokesman John Dehaan.
But DeHaansen said it’s not the end.
He said the company is still looking to find other suppliers for lime green bricks and blocks.