VW Setting Green Automotive Manufacturing Standards

When Volkswagen committed to investing about $1 billion to build its new manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, the company also made a commitment to operate it responsibly, with as little impact to the environment as possible.

VW’s New TN Plant Awarded Environmental Stewardship Award

Volkswagen Chattanooga’s Arrival Building.

Volkswagen Chattanooga’s Arrival Building.

When Volkswagen committed to investing about $1 billion to build its new manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, the company also made a commitment to operate it responsibly, with as little impact to the environment as possible. Now, just a few months into operations, Volkswagen Chattanooga is considered to be one of the greenest automotive factories in the world, and has even been given an “environmental stewardship” award by Tennessee’s Governor, Bill Haslam.

 

“This award reflects Volkswagen’s company-wide focus on our obligation to be thoughtful stewards of the environment, both with our vehicles and even our buildings,” said Frank Fischer, CEO and chair of Volkswagen Chattanooga.

 

Volkswagen will seek U.S. LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which sets new benchmarks for eco-friendly and resource-efficient plant structures and production processes.

Volkswagen's dry-scrubber system significantly reduces power and heat energy.

Volkswagen’s dry-scrubber system significantly reduces power and heat energy.

Numerous Sustainable Manufacturing Features at VW’s New North American FactoryAmong the plant’s more innovative green features is a dry-scrubber system in the paint shop. This system collects overspray—traditionally collected by water—in powdered limestone which can then be recycled for use by a local concrete company. What’s more, the system enables 85 percent of the air in spray booths to be recycled, resulting in significant savings of power and heat energy.

 

The dry–scrubber system is but one way the Chattanooga plant is saving energy. An additional 1.26 million kilowatt hours are expected to be saved annually through the plant’s highly efficient lighting system.

 

Up to 1.77 million gallons of fresh water will be saved annually through a sophisticated rainwater harvesting system and native and adapted plants have been used for landscaping, eliminating the need for permanent irrigation.

 

“Chattanooga is the most transformed city in America,” said Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield. “Volkswagen is contributing to that transformation with its commitment to sustainable manufacturing and in anticipation of attaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design designation. This class of corporate conscientiousness is setting the standard for our community.”

 

Volkswagen Chattanooga’s Green Innovations

• Volkswagen’s “Process 2010” saves an entire heating step in the paint shop, reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions by 20%.

• Rainwater is collected from the roof for use inside the plant and to cool welding guns.

• Smart insulation contains no VOCs or CFCs and is 100% recyclable.

• Energy-efficient lighting system that utilizes continuous-line lighting, T5 light bulbs, mirror reflectors and motion detectors save about 900,000 kilowatt hours annually.

• Energy-efficient exterior LED lighting provides a 68% energy savings.

December 29, 2011

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a contributing author and not necessarily Gray.

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