GM Sustainability Update: Energy Intensity Drops 6%
General Motors has realized year-over-year gains against all of its 2020 environmental goals, including reducing its energy intensity by six percent in that time period, according to an update to the company’s first sustainability report since re-organizing in 2009.
According to the update, the company reduced the MWh of energy per vehicle manufactured from 2.49 in 2010 to 2.34 in 2011. Data for the 2010 base year was adjusted from 2.59 to 2.49 to reflect divested assets and updated emission factors, which the company says is consistent with greenhouse gas protocol. GM has lowered its 2020 target from 2.07 to 1.99 MWh per vehicle to reflect this change, the report says.
GM’s most efficient region in 2011 in terms of carbon intensity was GM International Operations, which covers Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. GMIO used 1.24 MWh per vehicle in 2011. GM’s South American operations used 1.31 MWh per vehicle and its European facilities used 2.47 MWh per vehicle. The company’s least-efficient region in 2011 was North America. That region used 4.05 MWh per vehicle manufactured.
The company’s carbon intensity fell 4.5 percent year-on-year, from 0.88 metric tons of CO2 per vehicle manufactured in 2010 to 0.84 in 2011. Similar to the energy figures, the 2010 base year recording was revised down from 0.93 metric tons per vehicle as a result of divested assets. The company’s 2020 target was adjusted to 0.70 metric tons per vehicle to reflect the change.
Progress on these goals was achieved through ongoing measures and capital investment, including automated shutdown of equipment when not in use, installation of energy-efficient lighting, consumption tracking and analysis through energy management systems, and upgrades to more efficient heating and cooling systems, the report says. In 2011, GM’s investments in energy-efficient building services yielded $11.6 million in annual savings, while process improvements yielded an additional $7.9 million, according to the company.
GM was named as an EPA 2012 Energy Star Partner of the Year in the motor vehicle category. The recognition was based on several initiatives, including an energy management dashboard system that monitors 2.5 million pieces of energy data per minute and that led to savings of more than $3 million in 2011; a $12 million investment in energy cost-saving projects; and $2 million in savings from powering four facilities with landfill gas, the report says.
The automaker has a goal of using 125 MW of renewable power by 2020. In 2011 it used 73 MW of green power, up from 55 in 2010. This total includes power from landfill gas, solar photovoltaic, small hydroelectric and biomass facilities. In the US, renewable energy sources represent about two percent of GM’s energy use. Landfill gas installations at four US facilities generated savings of more than $2 million in 2011, the report says. The company also gets 5.6 MW of biomass-generated electricity from sugar cane for its manufacturing facilities in Brazil.
The company is aiming to double its commitment to solar power from 30 to 60 MW by the end of 2015. Construction has begun on the installation of a 350 kW array owned by DTE Energy in a field next to GM’s Orion, Mich., assembly plant.
GM’s water intensity dropped 3 percent year-on-year, from 4.89 to 4.74 cubic meters per vehicle manufactured. The figure for the 2010 baseline year was revised from 4.7 to 4.89 cubic meters to reflect divested assets.
The company’s plant in Wentzville, Miss., eliminated the use of city water to flush its boiler ash system. Flushing operated at 47 gallons per minute. This process change avoids the use of 24.7 million gallons of city water per year.
GM’s San Luis Potosí, Mexico, plant recycles 90 percent of its wastewater, which means that each vehicle is manufactured with about 50 percent reused water. This avoids the withdrawal of about 20 million gallons per year from the local water source, the report says.
Waste production at GM dropped 2.3 percent from 310 kg of waste per vehicle manufactured in 2010 to 304 in 2011. The 2010 figure had been adjusted from 304 to 310 to reflect the addition of waste from facilities in Mexico, which GM says had been inadvertently omitted. In October, the company shared details about how it turned more than half of its manufacturing plants into landfill-free facilities and which best practices helped the automaker turned its own waste byproducts into a $1 billion-a-year revenue generator.
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