Driving Energy Efficiency in the Industry – Seven Years and Counting

Apr 12, 2018 10:55 AM ET
General Motors was named an EPA ENERGYSTAR Partner of the Year- Sustained Excellence Award winner for the 7th year in row.

Driving Energy Efficiency in the Industry – Seven Years and Counting

Energy efficiency is a key part of General Motors’ strategy for a future with zero emissions. Last week, the automaker received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence award for the seventh consecutive year for its continuous leadership in protecting the environment through energy efficiency and growing its corporate energy program. The award is the highest honor an organization can receive from the EPA for energy management.

Over the years, the automaker has taken a holistic approach in integrating energy efficiency across its value chain and scaling its energy progress. Since 2010, General Motors has reduced its energy intensity by 17 percent, generating $135 million in cost savings – the equivalent to the sales of 143,000 vehicles. Some of the innovative ways it has implemented change include:

  • Benchmarking – Using data and a variety of industry tools, including the ENERGY STAR® building portfolio manager, the automaker regularly benchmarks its success while looking for areas for continuous improvement. Each month, it receives an automated analysis of building scores to evaluate the facilities’ performance, focusing on improvement efforts based on scores in categories of low cost.
  • External stakeholder engagement – Industry engagement has been a key way the company drives change beyond its manufacturing walls. In addition to participating in case studies, webinars and industry collaborations to share best practices, the automaker published the “Accelerating and Scaling Corporate Renewable Energy,” an energy efficiency blueprint that maps their ways to reach bold clean targets. It also supports enhancement of energy performance across the motor vehicle industry by engaging in the development of new ENERGY STAR® plant energy performance indicators for engine and transmission plants.
  • Global employee engagement – Internal change would not be possible without the hard work and support from General Motors’ dedicated employees worldwide. For the past 11 years, the automaker has conducted “energy treasure hunts” across its global manufacturing plants in more than 20 countries, using recent ENERGY STAR® guidelines to uncover new energy opportunities. Recently in India and Thailand, a designated team completed energy treasure hunts, where they it identified 43 new energy reduction opportunities ranging from LED conversions, improved ventilation and manual shut-off lights during non-production hours to reducing the boiler hot water supply from 7:00 a.m. to midnight to save energy. As a result of this process and integration of energy into their business plan, 131 facilities have achieved the ENERGY STAR® Challenge for Industry as of 2017, which recognizes plants that have achieved a 10 percent reduction in energy intensity within five years.
  • Supplier engagement – General Motors engages suppliers at every stage to drive impact across the entire supply chain. Suppliers are encouraged and empowered to identify areas or ways processes can be improved for energy efficiencies.
  • Investing in new energy projects – The company has also invested significant resources to developing new best practices, including spending $22 million in 2017 on energy efficiency projects throughout North American facilities. Updating existing facilities has also yielded cost and energy savings, such as retrofitting paint shops with technology updates and improving water treatment equipment for increased water and energy efficiency.   

General Motors is committed to reducing energy and carbon intensity by 20 percent by 2020 from the 2010 baseline. For more information on General Motors’ renewable energy blueprint, click here.