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Honda NA Hits Another CO2 Goal, a Year Late

Last year Honda met its 2010 goal of a 20 percent cut to CO2 from power equipment production, with a 27.2 percent drop from 2000 levels, according to its 2011 North American environmental report.

The goal was the fifth of six CO2 targets that the company set for itself to meet in 2010. The first four were achieved on time.

But last year the company continued to miss a target of a 10 percent reduction in CO2 intensity of automobile production, with a 6.3 percent drop from 2000 to 2011. Honda says it missed the goal due to a severe reduction in North American production volumes, as a result of the global economic recession. The company says its manufacturing systems must remain in operation whenever production is taking place, so reduced production levels raise per-unit measures of energy use, CO2 emissions, waste and water use.

The four goals met in 2010 were reducing the CO2 output from end-use of automobiles, motorcycles and power equipment by 10 percent each (the actual reductions were 12.6, 14.4, and 10.8 percent), and reducing CO2 emissions from motorcycle production by 20 percent (actual reduction: 47.1 percent), all against a 2000 baseline. Details of the 2010 environment report are here.

Last year, CO2 product-use emissions were down slightly for motorcycles and power equipment and up slightly for autos. Production emissions for automobiles were down 3.7 percent from the previous year, to 727 kg/auto; for powersports production, down 4.3 percent, to 269 kg/unit; and for power equipment production, down 10.6 percent, to 9.3 kg/unit. Honda said consolidation of production sites helped cause the drop in CO2 for motorcycles, while the reduction of energy use during non-production periods helped lead to the drop for both motorcycles and power equipment.

Energy use per unit of automobile production in North America in 2011 was 7.2 percent below the FY2001 baseline and 5.9 percent below the previous fiscal year, at 6.4 gigajoules, as plants moved closer to full capacity and initiated efficiency improvements. At Honda NA’s highest-volume plant in Marysville, Ohio, centralized steam used to heat and humidify the building and its operations was replaced by more efficient localized systems, raising system efficiency from 57 percent to a minimum of 80 percent. Several plants undertook activities to improve air compression systems by reducing air pressure, eliminating leaks, installing energy-efficient trim compressors, and installing shutoff valves that stop airflow when equipment is not in use.

But the company failed to meet a goal of maintaining or improving its water use intensity from FY2008 levels, with intensity up 17.1 percent on 2008 levels, and up 5.1 percent on the previous year, to 820 gal/unit. Honda says the rise was a result of weather conditions, which required increased water use for facility air conditioning.

The company’s life cycle assessments indicate that 86 percent of Honda-related CO2 emissions come from product use. For this reason, the firm says it believes that the most important way for it to respond to climate change is to reduce CO2 emissions from customer use.

In June, as part of its worldwide environmental report, Honda announced a target to reduce CO2 emissions from use of its products by 30 percent by the end of 2020, compared to 2000 levels. It has not set public goals for cuts to production-related emissions.

In the North American report, the firm said that between 2009 and 2010 model years, it improved the CO2-adjusted fuel economy of Honda and Acura automobiles by an average of 4.1 percent – up 1 mpg to 25.6 mpg, compared to a U.S. auto industry average increase of 0.1 mpg in the same period.

The company said that in 2011 it met a goal of increasing the market for natural gas-powered vehicles, by expanding the U.S. retail dealer network for the nat gas-powered Civic. It also implemented technologies for improved fuel efficiency in power equipment, with its new mid-GX series engines.

In FY2011 Honda introduced its Fit EV concept, and this week announced that it has begun deliveries of the battery-electric vehicle. The city of Torrance, Calif., where Honda NA is headquartered, received the first vehicle.

Last year Honda also continued leasing of FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicles to customers in Southern California.

According to the report, no single Honda technology holds the greatest promise for benefit to society in areas such as air quality, GHG reduction, and energy security. Instead, the company presents a color-coded scorecard rating a host of powertrains on their potential for improving upon existing internal combustion vehicles in each of these areas, as well as in marketability. The chart starts on page 16 of the report.

The company says that last year it continued to reduce substances of concerns in Honda and Acura products where technically and economically practical, and its new models achieved less than one percent concentration of chlorine in materials that could end up in waste stream as shredder residue.

Honda says it avoided an estimated 5.6 million miles of truck travel and 6,743 metric tons of CO2 emissions through strategic planning and other green logistics initiatives for shipping mass production parts from North American suppliers. The company attributed 813 metric tons of CO2 savings to use of Route Tracker technology and 2,400 metric tons to improved cube efficiency.

Although Honda generally operates in a just-in-time manufacturing environment, it initiated a program to pull ahead the delivery of materials to support Saturday production, when required, eliminating the transportation of parts and materials on Saturdays.

Last year 100 percent of the trucks delivering Honda and Acura autos in the U.S. were certified under the EPA’s SmartWay initiative, and the company also replaced 15 of 210 trucks in its U.S. service parts delivery fleet with SmartWay Transport-certified trucks.

As reported in July, in 2011 Honda achieved its goal of making all 14 of its North American plants “virtually zero waste to landfill,” meaning the facilities landfill less than 0.5 percent of all operating waste from manufacturing, and 10 of them operate with absolutely zero waste to landfill, according to the company.

Waste to landfill was reduced 91.9 percent from the FY2001 baseline. In FY2011, Honda diverted nearly 60,000 pieces of electronic waste and 1.8 million pounds of overstock parts form landfills, while introducing 44 remanufactured parts.

Last year three of its facilities received LEED certification, giving Honda what it says is an industry-leading 11 LEED-certified facilities in North America.

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