Guest Post: The Drive to Meet Manufacturing Sustainability Commitments

May 27, 2014 2:20 PM ET
Jim DeLuca is executive vice president, global manufacturing, General Motors.

When you think about General Motors, you obviously think about vehicles.

But from a sustainability perspective, our manufacturing operations are fueling our journey to become a more sustainable company.

We’ve made great progress on that front since establishing our goals three years ago. In fact, we’ve met three of our commitments to sustainable manufacturing seven years ahead of schedule. This is a remarkable pace showing our dedication to reducing the environmental impact of our facilities worldwide.

We reduced VOC emissions from assembly painting operations by 10 percent, reduced total waste from facilities by 10 percent, and achieved 25 non-manufacturing landfill-free operations.

And our progress in 2013 continued. Energy and carbon intensity reductions worldwide helped us to earn a 2013 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award. Our Rosario plant in Argentina received the first ISO 50001 certification in the Americas, and nine more of our plants met the voluntary ENERGY STAR® Challenge for Industry.  That brings us to an industry-leading total of 63 facilities worldwide, and a savings of $162 million in combined energy costs. We also announced four new renewable energy projects and will save $10 million in annual energy costs by using more landfill gas at our Fort Wayne and Orion assembly plants.

These gains are a testament to our manufacturing teams around the world and their commitment to doing what’s right for our business and the global communities where we live and work. All of these highlights are worth mentioning, but we know there’s much more work to be done.

Progress against other 2020 commitments to sustainable manufacturing includes (with a 2010 baseline):

  • Expanding renewable energy use to 66.2 megawatts, toward a goal of 125 megawatts
  • Increasing the number of landfill-free manufacturing sites to 83, toward a goal of 100
  • Reducing water intensity by 9 percent, with a goal of 15 percent
  • Reducing energy intensity by 10 percent, with a goal of 20 percent
  • Reducing carbon intensity by 7 percent, with a goal of 20 percent

With challenges such as climate change, congestion and energy security, we are on a mission to transform transportation. Rethinking the manufacturing process is a big part of that strategy.

The cars you see driving down the street are proof of our vision, but it all begins in our plants around the globe.