2013 will go down as the year in which General Motors firmly established itself as the automotive leader in environmental sustainability, earning the most prestigious award that a corporation can receive from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — the 2013 Energy Star Partner of the Year award for Sustained Excellence. To GM’s credit, 63 of its facilities were acknowledged by the EPA as having met the standards of its Energy Star Challenge for Industry program by reducing energy consumption by at least 10 percent in less than 5 years. The merits don’t stop there, either.
In May 2013, GM became the first automaker to sign the sustainable business advocacy group Ceres’ “Climate Declaration.” Along with 40 other U.S. companies such as Starbucks, signers of the Declaration have voluntarily committed themselves to pursue clean energy resources, improve overall efficiency, and reduce carbon greenhouse gas emissions.
Soon after in July 2013, GM released its 2012 Sustainability Report, which reads like an environmental manifesto where the Detroit-based automaker sets some pretty lofty goals for the coming years, including:
- Putting 500,000 vehicles on the road in the U.S. with some form of electrification by 2017.
- Doubling the models that achieve 40-mpg highway or better by 2017.
- Reducing average U.S. fleet carbon emissions 15 percent by 2016 and European fleet carbon emissions 27 percent by 2020.
In addition, GM touts that it has the most clean energy patents of any organization, and is the number one automotive user of solar power. Last year, a 1.8 megawatt solar array was installed on top of GM’s Toledo Transmission Plant. The rooftop array is the largest in the whole state of Ohio and accounts for close to 3 percent of the facility’s power.
Finally, in December 2013, GM announced that its global headquarters, the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, became its 110th landfill-free facility. All of the waste generated at these facilities is either recycled, reused, or converted to energy. From these endeavors, GM is expected to save approximately $1 billion a year in energy costs.
Looking forward, 2014 promises to be filled with even more environmental milestones for GM, and we look forward to more renewable energy announcements in the near future.