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Volvo ‘First Company to Meet DOE Challenge’

Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley manufacturing plant in Dublin, Va., has reduced its energy intensity by nearly 30 percent in just one year.

This makes it the first company to meet a 10-year challenge set by the U.S. Department of Energy, Volvo says.

The department launched the Save Energy Now LEADER Program in October 2009 as a challenge to the U.S. industrial sector.  Volvo Trucks in North America and 31 other major companies pledged to reduce their intensity of energy per unit of production by 25 percent over a decade.

The plant reduced its MMbtu per truck (the Energy Department’s metric for energy intensity) from 79.64 in 2009 to 60.42 in 2010 – a reduction of 29.6 percent.

To reach the aggressive energy reduction goals, Volvo Trucks established a dedicated energy team at the plant.  Team members agreed to pursue many small energy-saving tactics and also to attack the biggest energy-consuming processes.

Company-wide efforts include the use of a building automation system to control building temperatures and turn off lighting, a passive solar wall and photovoltaic solar panels.  Skylights, new light fixtures (including LED), infrared heaters and solar water heaters were installed.  As cost savings were found, those funds were re-invested in other energy reduction strategies.

“Volvo met the Save Energy Now target in one year instead of ten,” said Chief Operating Officer Patrick Collignon, who served as vice president and general manager of the plant during the time in which the target was met.  “This accomplishment exemplifies our commitment to our core value of environmental care.  Thanks to the engagement of employees across the organization, we’re lowering energy use while at the same time operating more efficiently.”

In other automaker news, General Motors‘ efforts to eliminate the shipment of plant waste to landfills is spreading to its non-manufacturing sites, 10 of which now reuse, recycle or convert to energy all waste from normal operations.

Converting non-manufacturing facilities meant rethinking packaging such as cardboard – a significant waste stream by volume. GM engineers worked to create designs with recyclable attributes intended for disassembly. The company is also developing technical specifications that can be followed on a global basis.

A landfill-free customer care and aftersales facility in Burton, Mich., is using an environmentally friendly, bio-based packaging foam from supplier Landaal Packaging Systems. The foam blocks and braces products like sheet metal to ensure safe arrival. Made from extruded cornstarch, the foam is both biodegradable and compostable.

“Our non-manufacturing facilities see the importance of being waste-reduction leaders, and they know their customers value it as well,” said John Bradburn, manager of GM’s waste-reduction efforts. “Being landfill-free has become a point of pride for our people and we hope even more facilities achieve the goal this year.”

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2 thoughts on “Volvo ‘First Company to Meet DOE Challenge’

  1. Set your target. See the progress. Share experiences. Thank you Environmental Leader to provide inspiring examples, there is still a lot to do. Volvo is a good example of making the first CO2 neutral manufacturing plant, taking alternative fuels into products as well as a driving force for solutions, even changing behaviors. Feel free to learn more at http://www.CommuteGreener.com as well as take a step and join together to include the possibilities to Commute Greener!

  2. I don’t think the math adds up here.

    They went from 79.64 MMBTU/truck to 60.42. By my math, that looks like a 24% reduction.

    Kudos to Volvo for their achievement, but I hope that these aren’t the numbers they used.

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