Automakers, EPA Set Energy Performance Benchmark to Improve Assembly-Plant Efficiency

Rating the energy efficiency of auto assembly plants starts a process that will cut energy usage, save money and protect the environment. U.S. motor vehicle manufacturers spend more than $700 million annually on energy for assembly plants. If energy use across the industry were reduced by five percent, the savings would be equivalent to conserving the fuel to operate almost 78,000 passenger cars for a year, according to EPA.

This rating system, made available by EPA, is the first of its kind for manufacturing facilities. It compares the energy efficiency of an assembly plant producing passenger cars, light duty trucks, sport utility vehicles, or vans in the United States to that of the entire industry.

EPA and the automobile industry worked jointly to develop the Energy Star Automobile Assembly Plant Energy Performance Indicator (EPI) and were supported by the analytical skills of Argonne National Laboratory. The performance indicator benchmarks an entire assembly plant's energy use, a critical step in strategic energy management. It enables companies to determine how efficiently each plant is using energy as compared to the industry as a whole, and whether better energy performance could be expected.

Based on the input of simple plant-level information, the energy efficiency of an automobile assembly plant is scored from 1 to 100 and compared to the average and "efficient" plants in the industry. EPA defines an efficient plant at a score of 75 or better. Now, corporate energy directors can establish meaningful goals for reducing energy use in assembly plants and better manage their companies' energy costs.

The EPI was developed as part of an Energy Star Industrial "Focus" with the motor vehicle manufacturing industry. Energy Star Industrial Focus has been initiated for motor vehicle, cement and pharmaceutical manufacturing in addition to the corn and petroleum refining industries. A separate focus is underway for water and wastewater treatment plants operated by local governments and sanitary services companies.

The EPI is available for download from the Energy Star Web site (http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=industry.bus_motorveh_manuf_focus).

For more information about the Energy Star program, visit http://www.energystar.gov.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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