GM completely eliminated coal from - Smart Energy Decisions

Demand Management, Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Industrial, Industrial, Sourcing Renewables  -  June 15, 2017

Energy conservation yields $73M in savings at GM

Supporting General Motors Co.'s commitment to using 100% renewable energy to power its global operations, the company has been aggressive its efforts to reduce the energy intensity of its operations, including the complete elimination of onsite goal generation at its facilities. 

The Detroit-based automaker, which last year announced its goal of using 100% renewable energy to power its global operations, said in its corporate sustainability report released June 1 that it has switched boilers from coal to natural gas at its Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, and Wentzville, Missouri facilities. And in 2015, GM shut down its coal-fired boiler at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant and is purchasing steam from renewable energy sources, eliminating the last of its coal-based emissions, according to the report


Taken altogether, the transition away from coal has contributed to the company's 16% reduction in CO2 emissions since 2010. GM has committed to reducing its energy intensity 20% by 2020 using a 2010 baseline.

"These types of initiatives underscore our ongoing dedication to using less energy across all of our operations," GM says. "Conserving energy will speed our progress toward our renewable energy goals, while also saving GM money and providing cleaner air in our communities."

The report outlines the demand-side initiatives underway at GM that are complementary to its 100% renewable energy goal. In 2016 alone, energy conservation efforts led to $73 million in savings, according to the report. Those efforts include its recently announced plans to install more than 45,000 LED lighting fixtures across its 32 global facilities; that rollout is expected to achieve energy savings of about $2.3 million a year going forward.


The motion sensor fixtures from Current, the energy management "startup" launched within General Electric in late 2015, are expected to reduce the Detroit-based automaker's lighting-related energy consumption by 60%, according a joint news release from the companies.

In its sustainability report, GM also offered insight into other energy use reduction initiatives, including workforce engagement on energy efficiency: 

We couldn't achieve these results without a workforce that is engaged and committed to improving energy efficiency every day. Plants develop programs to encourage employees to conserve energy. For example, Rochester Operations implemented a "Shut It Off" program to remind employees to take action, and audits the process to provide feedback to the team. We also leveraged ENERGY STAR's "Bring Your Green to Work" campaign to create learning booths and seminars with local energy utilities to discuss energy-saving ideas for both the home and office.

Editor's note: For details on GM's approach to its 100% renewable energy goal, check out this case study in the Smart Energy Decisions research center. 

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