GM refuels sustainability goals

Automaker pushes for 20 percent reduction in energy intensity and carbon intensity by 2020; emphasizes that money saved can be money reinvested.

Earlier this month, General Motors released its first corporate sustainability report since being reborn as the GM Company. The update recaps many accomplishments from 2010 and 2011, notably its ability to reach zero-waste-to-landfill status at 81 manufacturing sites. More important, it sets out a new set of environmental commitments being made by the automaker.

Those goals, led by its mission to reduce energy intensity by another 20 percent between now and 2020, are being made in a very specific context. Money saved can be money reinvested. GM CEO Dan Akerson notes that every dollar saved through an energy-efficiency, recycling or other operational sustainability measure, can be poured back into research and development budgets.

He says in the report: "Profits enable reinvestment -- in R&D to reimagine a car's DNA; in cleaner, more fuel-efficient technologies; in plants that better conserve resources; in improved vehicle safety; in job creation and stability; and in the communities in which we live and work."

There are several new agenda items that GM is committing to publicly. Here's a recap (unless otherwise stated, all of these goals are set for 2020):

  1. Reduce energy intensity and carbon intensity from facilities by 20 percent
  2. Use 125 megawatts of renewable energy
  3. Reduce  by 10 percent volatile organic compound emissions related to assembly painting (no timeframe given)
  4. Cut back on water intensity by 15 percent (no timeframe)
  5. Reduce total facilities wast by 10 percent and work to achieve 100 landfill-free manufacturing sites and 25 landfill-free non-manufacturing sites (no timeframe)
  6. Promote one community outreach project per plant on an annual basis related to energy or the environment
  7. Earn Wildlife Habitat Certification for GM manufacturing sites, as feasible

The video below features Mike Robinson, GM's vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs, with additional comments about the automaker's sustainability agenda:

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