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EPA Awards Ford and Toyota 2009 Energy Star Sustained Excellence Awards

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded Ford Motor Company and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. 2009 Energy Star Sustained Excellence Awards. The two were the only automotive companies receiving Energy Star awards.

Ford received the award for the fourth consecutive year based on the company’s actions to reduce the amount of energy used to manufacture vehicles and support its US operations.

In 2008, Ford improved energy efficiency in the US by 5% resulting in savings of approximately $16 million. Actual savings due to plant shutdowns were higher, but Ford measures energy efficiency as energy consumed per vehicle. Since 2000, Ford’s US facilities have improved energy efficiency by nearly 35%—equivalent to the annual energy consumed by more than 150,000 homes.

A number of actions taken by Ford since 2000 have contributed to its overall energy efficiency improvement, including:

  • Updated heating systems at many manufacturing facilities by replacing out-moded steam powerhouses with digitally controlled direct-fired natural gas air handlers;

  • Updated facility lighting systems by replacing inefficient high intensity discharge fixtures with up-to-date fluorescent lights and control systems;

  • Upgraded paint process systems including booth air handling and improved emission controls;

  • Continued development of Ford’s “Paint Shop of the Future” processes, including Fumes-to-Fuel that turns paint fumes into electricity, the 3-Wet painting process that significantly reduces the footprint and energy use of paint booths, and zirconium oxide pretreatment that uses less energy to inhibit surface corrosion;

  • Installed advanced computer controls on all North American plant air compressors for paint shop applications and pneumatic tools;

  • Aggressively curtailing energy use during extended production shutdown periods;

  • Using flexible tooling to assemble multiple vehicles on the same production line, which requires less manufacturing floor space and optimizes plant utilization; and

  • Leveraging the Energy Star program through employee energy awareness communications and events, development of energy modeling and analysis tools, and replication of industry best practices.

Toyota received the award for the fifth time. Key accomplishments include:

  • Reducing energy use by 7.2% on an absolute basis compared to the previous year, despite the 2008 market conditions that caused automobile producers to idle manufacturing capacity.

  • Developing a transformative supplier program to teach businesses how to conduct plant energy-savings assessments known as “Treasure Hunts” and how to secure management support for project implementation. The first training session identified 95 energy-reduction opportunities for these companies.

  • Continuing to identify new methods for reducing the energy requirements of its manufacturing processes, such as optimizing paint booth conditions.

  • Adapting EPA’s energy performance indicator (EPI) for Motor Vehicle Manufacturing so that North American and Japanese assembly plants can be evaluated together in a common system.

  • Earning the Energy Star for four of its assembly plants using EPA’s newly revised EPI for these facility types.

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