Chevrolet plans to invest $40 million in a variety of clean energy projects in the U.S. with a goal to reduce 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Projects selected will promote energy savings, renewable energy, responsible use of natural resources and conservation in communities.
Some of the projects that Chevrolet may implement over the next three to five years include providing energy-efficient technology such as smart energy sensors and solar panels to schools and other community-based facilities in need of upgrades to decrease carbon dioxide emissions and reduce heating bills.
The initiative is also looking at wind farm and solar projects that deliver renewable energy to the grid and also help family farms increase their revenues per acre, as well as capturing flammable methane from community landfills that delivers clean energy to the grid and improves local air quality and safety. The automaker also plans to contribute to forestry projects.
GM estimates its new carbon-reduction goal equates to the emissions in 2011 from driving the 1.9 million vehicles Chevrolet is expected to sell in the United States over the next year.
“Chevy is an iconic emblem of America and it is a big deal that it is stepping forward to address one of our greatest challenges — moving us toward a low-carbon future,” said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “Chevy is clearly demonstrating that companies can act now and help propel clean energy solutions.”
These projects are in addition to the investments Chevrolet has been making in increasing energy efficiency at its plants and improving fuel economy.
“These will be community-based projects, in addition to the things that we are continually doing to improve the performance of our plants and improve the fuel economy of our vehicles,” says Mike Robinson, Vice President, Environment, Energy and Safety Policy at GM.
“We’re excited about the 42 miles per gallon on the Cruze, another great entry for us in the marketplace. But beyond those things, this is a decision by Chevrolet to reach out to the communities we serve through our car owners and places where we work and live to make investments,” Robinson adds.
Since 1990, GM has decreased its manufacturing emissions by 60 percent. GM also has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build fuel-efficient vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze Eco, which gets an EPA-estimated 42 mpg on the highway, and the Chevy Volt electric car with extended-range capability. The Volt allows 25-50 miles of pure electric driving on a single charge after which a small gasoline engine/generator creates electricity for an additional 300 miles.
Other GM initiatives include reducing water use by nearly 35 percent between 2005 and 2009 at manufacturing facilities worldwide; decreasing fossil fuel at GM plants by using landfill gas, hydro and solar power; recycling 90 percent of the waste the company generates; and operating 75 landfill-free facilities, more than half of its manufacturing plants globally.
Chevy will be making investments through third-party organizations such as Bonneville Environmental Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Ore.
Chevrolet says it has yet to determine the process for selecting projects but is working closely with Bonneville, along with other environmental experts, non-government organizations and academics through the Climate Neutral Business Network to develop a plan and help Chevrolet execute this investment.
“We’re not going to simply write a check for $40 million and be done with it. We’re going to be actively involved with the outside stakeholders,” says Robinson. “This is all about building the Chevrolet brand image and reaching some people that we may not have reached before through our products and what our brand stands for.”
“This is the brainchild of a lot of thoughtful discussion and commitment by Chevrolet to be more than a supplier of automotive products but to be invested in the communities we serve through our customers,” Robinson says.
Advisor companies include Clean Air-Cool Plant, Climate Action Reserve, The Climate Group, Pew Center on Global Climate Change and Center for Environmental Policy, Bard College.