GM Tonawanda Engine Meets EPA Energy-Reduction Challenge

December 21, 2011 Updated Dec 21, 2011 at 12:09 PM EDT

By WKBW News


(Left to right) Tom Mayer - Facilities Manager, Steve Finch - Plant Manager, Paul Ardounis - Energy Engineer, and Guy Newell - President - UAW Local 774

December 21, 2011 Updated Dec 21, 2011 at 12:09 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- As well as at the Tonawanda Engine plant, General Motors has cut energy intensity at 29 other North American plants by an average of 25 percent – equivalent to the emissions from powering 97,000 U.S. homes – to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Challenge for Industry.

Collectively, the manufacturing facilities avoided more than 778,380 metric tons of greenhouse gas. It would require the planting of 20 million trees that grow for 10 years to mitigate the same amount.  And the efforts saved GM $50 million in energy costs.

Tonawanda Engine achieved the ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry in 2010 by reaching approximately 31% energy reduction per pound of product within two years of its baseline. Energy efficiency was accomplished through a diverse portfolio of projects and strategies, including:
•Replaced isolated inefficient processes and building boiler control systems with a new Allen Bradley Controllers & Variable Speed Drives

•Implemented remote monitoring and control of Administrative HVAC Systems

•Automated process shutoff of energy using SCADA systems during production downtimes

•Continued focus on lighting efficiency and other building service projects

•Building an energy conservation culture by communicating to all employees

Total energy savings since the Tonawanda Engine plant has been participating in the Energy Challenge is 237,507 MMBTu.

“What a great way to end the year,” said Plant Manager Steve Finch. “There is a joint effort by GM and the UAW to run our plant as energy efficiently as possible. We could not have had this improvement and won this award without the diligence of all employees.”

EPA’s program challenges manufacturing companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving their energy efficiency by 10 percent within five years. The GM plants agreed to establish an energy intensity baseline normalized by production volume. They set a 10-percent improvement goal, implemented energy efficiency projects, tracked energy use and verified savings.

"EPA congratulates GM for achieving these important energy efficiency improvements," said Jean Lupinacci, chief of the ENERGY STAR Commercial and Industrial Program. "Energy efficiency can deliver significant financial and environmental benefits, and we look forward to GM's continued leadership and partnership with ENERGY STAR."

To achieve the challenge, GM employed tactics such as benchmarking energy use through
energy management systems; automating shut-down of equipment; and upgrading to energy-efficient lighting and more-efficient heating and cooling systems.
Worldwide, GM is committed to reducing emissions and petroleum dependence by being more energy efficient.
“GM employees at all levels help us reduce energy use and be more efficient throughout our operations,” said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Sustainability and Global Regulatory Affairs. “With this also comes a strong business case – these improvements saved us $50 million, which helps make the company more competitive.”

GM’s 30 plants represent nearly a third of all sites that have achieved the ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry. According to the EPA, 86 of the 386 manufacturing sites that have taken the challenge have met the goal to date, improving their energy efficiency by 10 percent or more.