General Motors Goes for LEED Gold
General Motors is building an engine plant in southern Brazil equipped with many sustainable features including solar energy and water recycling systems, which the company expects will secure an LEED certification.
If successful, the facility would join GM’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant in Michigan and its China headquarters in Shanghai in earning this distinction. The engine plant, located in Joinville, Brazil, is expected to be operating by the end of 2012. GM is building a transmission plant, slated to begin production in 2014, with similar green features in the same industrial complex. GM has invested more than $513 million total in the construction of the two plants.
The engine plant will have a solar energy system, the first in the Brazilian automotive industry, according to GM. Energy generated from solar panels, amounting to the electricity consumption of 285 Brazilian homes, will be used to power the plant’s lighting on the manufacturing floors and in administrative offices. The plant will also use solar energy to heat 15,000 liters of water per year. The solar heating system will reduce natural gas costs and avoid 17.6 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
The plant also will have a water recycling process that uses reverse osmosis, a membrane technology filtration system, to produce purified water for drinking and industrial purposes. The water recycling system is expected to supply all the tap water used in the plant and save 22 million liters of water per year.
Other features include a sewage treatment that uses filtering gardens instead of chemicals, which will save electricity and avoid 3.6 tons of CO2 a year. The gardens will be integrated into the landscape and use vegetation that has been adapted to the site. Other water conservation methods will include use of rainwater for flush toilets and installation of low-flow sensor faucets.
The site also will recycle and compost food waste, and is expected to be GM’s first landfill-free plant in the country, the company said.
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