Nothing like a hot Michigan summer to power a few homes.

General Motors is making good use of that sun by building a solar array on a two-acre plot of land next to its Orion factory, which is about 40 miles north of Detroit. GM is partnering with Detroit-based utility DTE Energy on the project, which involves a 350-kilowatt array that will be able to provide power to the equivalent of about 45 typical Michigan houses. The factory, which was built in 1983, produces about 10,000 vehicles a year, including the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano models. The array is part of the U.S. automaker's effort to double the solar power production used at its factories to 60 megawatts by 2015.

In January, GM released its first annual sustainability report since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009 and said that it met many of its goals to cut its carbon footprint, including making more than 80 factories landfill-free and having them recycle more than 92 percent of their waste. Just this week, GM said it now has 100 "landfill-free" facilities. The automaker said it was looking to further reduce its plants' carbon footprint by 20 percent and also reduce water use by 15 percent. Details below.
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Orion Assembly to Pull Energy from the Sun

Solar array to provide enough energy to power 45 Michigan homes

LAKE ORION, Mich. – A field next to General Motors' Orion Assembly Plant, home of the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano, will soon hold a solar array with enough capacity to annually power 45 homes in Michigan.

The energy from the 350-kilowatt array owned by DTE Energy will be sent back to the grid for use by area homes and businesses. In total, the energy saved will be equivalent to avoiding 261 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

"Last year, we committed to doubling our global solar output at our facilities from 30 megawatts to 60 by 2015," said Mike Robinson, GM vice president, Sustainability and Global Regulatory Affairs. "We believe in harnessing energy from clean, renewable sources because there a solid business case to be made and it's good for the environment. This array reinforces our progress."

The array is part of DTE Energy's SolarCurrents pilot program that calls for the installation of photovoltaic systems on customer rooftops or property during the next three years. The goal is to generate 15 megawatts of electricity throughout Southeast Michigan.

"SolarCurrents builds on our long partnership with GM to help it become as energy-efficient as possible," said Trevor Lauer, DTE Energy vice president, Marketing & Renewables. "Our partnership with GM is another example of how our companies work to build a more energy-efficient and sustainable future."

DTE Energy will build the array on a two-acre parcel facing south to maximize output. It will provide power to local housing and businesses.

The solar array is the latest aspect of Orion's environmental efforts.

The facility is powered by gas from two nearby landfills, saving $1.1 million per year and cutting the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides released into the air. This saves more than 6,300 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

Lighting upgrades in the plant have saved $575,895 while also cutting CO2 by 5,003 metric tons through the use of software that allows plant employees to track energy usage in real-time to improve efficiencies. This is equivalent to the energy used by 442 homes.

A new eco paint process that eliminates the need for a primer oven is heated by landfill gas, and uses half of the energy per vehicle of the one it replaced. With these paint process improvements, the plant has potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 80,000 metric tons at a full three-shift capacity, which is equivalent to averting the emissions from 14,000 vehicles per year.

In the United States alone, 2.1 percent of GM's energy consumption comes from renewable resources.

For more information on GM's environmental commitment, visit its sustainability report and environmental blog.

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM's brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.

DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include Detroit Edison, an electric utility serving 2.1 million customers in Southeastern Michigan, MichCon, a natural gas utility serving 1.2 million customers in Michigan and other non-utility, energy businesses focused on gas storage and pipelines, unconventional gas production, power and industrial projects, and energy trading. Information about DTE Energy is available at dteenergy.com, twitter.com/dte_energy and facebook.com/dteenergy.


GM Reaches Century Mark in Landfill-Free Facilities
Automaker recycled or reused 2.6 million metric tons at its plants worldwide in 2011


2012-06-19

LANSING, Mich. – A single plastic bag of household garbage represents more trash going to a landfill than 100 General Motors facilities combined.

GM recently added its 100th landfill-free facility – a parts distribution center in Lansing, Mich. It is a milestone in the company's ongoing waste-reduction efforts. No other automaker has as many facilities contributing zero waste to landfill.

GM first reduces waste and then focuses on recycling and reuse. In 2011, it recycled or reused 2.6 million metric tons at its facilities worldwide. That is equivalent to more than 38 million trash bags. Or, more than a month's worth of trash for every resident in New York City. GM recycles more waste from its worldwide facilities than any other automaker.

"Our landfill-free program continues to strengthen our business by creating efficiencies, generating revenue and inspiring innovation with products made from recycled content," said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Sustainability and Global regulatory affairs. "It's a mission that's integrated within our business processes. Everyone here plays a role in its success."

GM began tracking its waste 15 years ago, and, armed with this insight, improves its recycling each year. All of its worldwide facilities combined – including landfill-free plants and all others – recycle or reuse more than 90 percent of the waste they generate.

"One of GM's secrets to success is its cultivation of a strong network of suppliers committed to recycling materials and keeping them in use," said Steve Hellem, executive director of Suppliers Partnership for the Environment, a forum for automakers, suppliers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Their team regularly facilitates conversations, connects companies and even showcases creative recycling examples for others."

In conjunction with its suppliers, GM recycles scrap cardboard from various plants into a sound absorber on the Buick Lacrosse and Verano interior roof. Air deflectors on the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks are made with used tires from the automaker's proving ground. GM regularly shares its recycling best practices with companies of all sizes and industries.

In its first sustainability report as a new company, GM committed to achieve 25 more landfill-free sites and reduce total waste by another 10 percent by 2020. Since 1997, the company has reduced total waste by at least 43 percent.

In 2011, GM reduced total waste generated per vehicle by 5 percent at its global manufacturing facilities. Its recycling and reuse efforts last year avoided 10 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions. GM's landfill-free roster includes more than half of its global manufacturing facilities.

Independent sustainability agency Two Tomorrows audited GM's landfill-free and recycling leadership. For more information on GM's environmental commitment, visit its sustainability report and environmental blog.

General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM's brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.