News Column

Ford Sets Goal of Cutting Energy Use By 25 Percent

June 15, 2012

Alisa Priddle


Ford expects to reduce by 25 percent the amount of energy it uses in its manufacturing plants over the next five years.

That is on top of a 22 percent drop over six years in energy needed to build a vehicle, the automaker reports in its 13th annual Sustainability Report "Blueprint for Sustainability: Accelerating Ahead" released today.

Ford's efforts come as global energy use is forecast to increase 53 percent between 2008 and 2035, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Other initiatives include reductions in water use, waste-to-landfill and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as well as improvements in vehicle fuel economy and safety.

"Sustainability has moved from the periphery to the center of our strategy for succeeding in the marketplace and helping to address global challenges," said Robert Brown, vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering.

The first sustainability report came out in 1999 as a comprehensive look at corporate initiatives on social, economic and environmental issues.

The report has become global, highlighting efforts in Europe, South America and Asia and includes third-party commentary and multimedia elements.

"Our sustainability report is far from a bunch of tables and charts," said John Viera, global director of Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental Matters. "Anyone who spends any amount of time with it will truly get a sense of just how committed Ford is to supporting positive change and reducing the environmental impact of its products and facilities."

It took about 3,576 kilowatt-hours of electricity to make a vehicle in a Ford plant in 2006 and by 2011 that had been reduced to about 2,778 kwh. An average Michigan household uses 560-800 kwh a month -- about the amount Ford has reduced per car.

Adoption of new processes, such as the new paint technology, require less electricity and have fewer emissions. The system is in place at Michigan Assembly which also has a new solar panel system to generate renewal energy.

Every Ford plant has environmental targets which are reviewed and updated annually.

Company achievements to date include: --Reduced amount of waste sent to landfills globally by 11.3 percent from 2010 to 2011. Plans are to reduce it another 10% this year. --Reduced CO2 emissions from global operations in 2011 by 8 percent on a per-vehicle basis compared with 2010. --Advanced water-treatment technologies to reuse water, use less and treat solid waste.

Water use has been reduced to 4.7 cubic meters per vehicle in 2011. The corporate goal is to cut the amount of water used per vehicle by 30 percent between 2009 and 2015.

Increased use of sustainable and recycled materials including a seat fabric made of recycled water bottles and seat foam made with soy oil.

Ford extends its practices to its suppliers. The "Code of Human Rights, Basic Working Conditions and Corporate Responsibility" applies to the automaker and its $75 billion supply chain. The code addresses working hours and conditions, discrimination, health, safety and environmental issues and Ford trains its suppliers in the pertinent programs.

"Detailing our progress on human rights and sharing stories of our projects in the sustainability report is our primary source of communication regarding issues of social sustainability -- and not just to media and customers," said David Berdish, manager of social sustainability.

"Investors are paying attention to working conditions, conflict minerals and trafficking more intensely, and our stakeholders want to be kept updated on all developments," Berdish said.

Source: (c)2012 the Detroit Free Press

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