GM has recently announced plans to join the Better Buildings Challenge, a program started by the Obama government in order to support commercial and industrial building owners in their quest to become more energy-efficient. The challenge, which currently includes other businesses like 3M and the Ford Motor Company, is intended to stimulate the creation of new jobs, and save billions in energy costs.

GM plans to reduce energy use at plants by 25%

GM reports that between 2005 and 2010, the company managed to reduce energy use at global facilities by 28% on a per-vehicle-produced basis, and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 3.34 million metric tons. Between 2010 and 2012, the company was able to reduce energy use by an additional 7% and isn’t looking to stop anytime soon.

According to In Auto News, as part of the challenge, GM plans to reduce energy at its plants by 25% or more by 2018. In regards to their participation in the plan, Al Hildreth, General Motors Corporate Energy Manager says: “We continue to prove the business case for better energy management. Spreading the word about these benefits and sharing best practices with like-minded organizations will go far in reducing our nation’s energy consumption.”

Small changes, big energy savings

According to GM, energy-saving achievements to date include having received an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year and  a Sustained Excellence award. The reduction of energy use is due to various measures taken by the company.

Installing high-efficiency lighting for example, has already saved the GM’s manufacturing plant in Spring Hill close to $800,000 on an annual basis. Having replaced more than 4000 fixtures with high-efficiency fluorescent lighting, they have saved approximately 8.5 million kWhr of electricity per year.

Shutting down on equipment, another seemingly obvious shift in energy habits, has saved GM $3 million annually since 2011, reports the Harvard Business Review. The Environmental Leader suggests that GM has adapted GE’s Proficy Cimplicity software, a program that automates the shutdown and restart of equipment as needed. The company saw a payback on investment in less than 6 months.

Renewing the possibility of a sustainable future in automotive

GM has also made large steps in favour of a renewable future, named by the Solar Energy Industries Association as the top automotive user of solar power in the U.S. The company boasts two of the five largest rooftop solar arrays in the world and hopes to promote the use of 125 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020. According to Reliable Plant, renewable energy sources represent around 2% of GM’s energy use, making it one of the leading users in the industry.

Bringing energy-efficiency to the road

According to GM, the company is constantly developing technologies to further reduce drivers’ carbon footprint by decreasing the reliance on petroleum and offering vehicles powered by gas, diesel, biofuels and electricity. The company claims to offer some of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road today including the Chevrolet Volt, the hybrid Silverado pickup and the Buick LaCrosse with eAssist technology.

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image credit: Felix Meza