IRVINE, Calif. – Nissan has established itself as the global leader in zero emission vehicles with more than 75,000 Nissan LEAF electric cars on the road today. As Nissan adds plants and jobs increasing production capacity throughout the Americas, its operations are continually getting greener as well.
A set of collective efforts reflects Nissan's broader global environmental initiative, Nissan Green Program 2016, which focuses on reducing environmental impacts of corporate activities and pursuing harmony between resource consumption and ecology by promoting and widening the application of innovative green technologies, energy management and fuel-efficient vehicles.
In Mexico, Nissan has expanded a green energy program so that 50 percent of the energy used by the Aguascalientes Vehicle Assembly Plant comes from renewable sources including wind power and landfill gas. For more than a year, the plant has used a wind farm in southern Mexico and methane from garbage at the city dump, which combined have cut the plant's utility costs by more than 10 percent.
Nissan's program leverages Mexico's largest wind farm, which consists of 35 large wind turbines about 600 miles away. The wind replaces about 5.3 million gallons of fuel oil. Nissan also currently gets about 5 percent of its power from generators that run on methane from a local landfill with aims to almost double that. The biogas that is produced from the breakdown of organic matter is used as fuel. One of the limiting factors is the availability of trash. "If we had access to more, we'd use it," said Marco Antonio Rivera, senior manager for energy and environment at Nissan Mexico.
The plant is looking at other renewable sources as well to balance the mix of sources required to offset variables with renewable energy that can't be controlled such as the wind. Additionally, nearly 100 percent of recyclable materials at the plant are recycled.
The green energy program will be extended to the Cuernavaca Vehicle Assembly Plant and to the new Aguascalientes 2 assembly plant scheduled to open later this year.
In the U.S., Nissan is a leader in energy performance with three new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR® accolades on the shelf, including the 2013 Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award, the highest honor given to select organizations that are dedicated to protecting the environment through energy efficiency.
"Since becoming an ENERGY STAR partner in 2006, we have saved more than 800 billion BTUs (British thermal units) in our vehicle assembly process," said Bill Krueger, Nissan's senior vice president of Manufacturing, Purchasing, Production Engineering and Supply Chain Management. "That's enough energy to power the all-electric Nissan LEAF for more than 750 million miles."
This award closely follows two other ENERGY STAR achievements for Nissan's powertrain plant and vehicle assembly facilities.
Nissan's powertrain plant in Decherd, Tenn., recently achieved the EPA's ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry recognition for reducing the amount of energy needed to assemble engines by 7 percent in just 12 months by investing in more efficient equipment and establishing a compressed air leak reduction program.
Nissan's vehicle assembly plants in Smyrna, Tenn., and Canton, Miss., were recently awarded the ENERGY STAR Certification for the seventh year in a row, signifying Nissan's spot among the top 25 percent of the automotive manufacturing industry for superior energy management.
Nissan has implemented several energy-savings programs in recent years—including a program to identify and repair air leaks in the Nissan Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant and the debut of a new and more efficient paint plant in Smyrna, which brought the plant above the 75th percentile in energy performance, according to ENERGY STAR metrics.
Nissan debuts efficient paint plant
With the recent additions of Infiniti QX60 and Nissan LEAF, and with production of Nissan Rogue on the way to the Nissan vehicle assembly plant in Smyrna, Tenn., the company has added its most advanced paint plant in the world that sets new standards for quality, efficiency and environmental impact. In fact, the new paint plant is capable of reducing energy consumption by 30 percent, carbon emissions by 30 percent and volatile organic compound (VOCs) emissions by 70 percent.
The plant uses an innovative three-wet paint process that applies all three paint layers in succession before the vehicle goes into the oven. Previous processes required a dehydration process to take place between the primer application and the topcoat layers. Implementation of this new technology reduces energy consumption, cost and emissions while increasing production efficiency.
"Nissan is committed to increase energy efficiency as we reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing the highest quality vehicles sold in North America," said Susan Brennan, Nissan's vice president of Manufacturing in Smyrna. "These efforts align with our global strategies of zero-emission leadership and corporate social responsibility to employees, stakeholders and customers."
The plant is Nissan's "Showcase Project" as part of the Department of Energy's Better Buildings Better Plants Challenge, where Nissan has committed to reducing energy in its three U.S. plants by 25 percent by 2020.
Nissan is a proud ENERGY STAR® Partner and was awarded ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year in 2010 and 2011 and Sustained Excellence, ENERGY STAR's highest honor, in 2012. The Smyrna plant has received the ENERGY STAR distinction for the past 7 years.
In May 2012, Nissan's Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant became the first passenger vehicle manufacturing facility to attain ISO 50001 and Superior Energy Performance (SEP) certifications. Accredited under the American National Standards Institute and National Accreditation Board, these certifications recognize the Smyrna facility as a leader in energy management.
Brazil builds green into growth plans
Brazil anticipates opening its new Resende manufacturing plant in the first half of 2014 as one of the most sustainable facilities in the world. The plant features a "Green Belt" that circles the entire facility and is designed to help neutralize C02 emissions while also reducing noise levels of the factory for the surrounding environment. Construction of wetlands also will help to balance the area ecosystem.
The Resende plant, which will build Nissan March and Versa when it opens, will boast integrated production methods, modern and efficient equipment and waste management methods that together will significantly enhance the plant's environmental friendliness.
Nissan also expects the new Resende plant to have the one of the lowest rates of CO2 emissions in the world among automotive companies. This feat will be accomplished in part by sourcing raw material near the plant, which reduces CO2 emissions in transport. Use of state-of-the-art equipment and production technologies including the most modern robots will provide greater energy efficiency. The plant's design also allows for natural light to reduce energy use.
The plant will use water-based ink, which is more environmentally friendly and will use ink cartridges in painting robots, which significantly reduces the waste based on the lower discharge of ink and solvent. The process also increases the average efficiency of ink usage from an average today of about 30 percent and Nissan's new plant will be at 80 percent efficiency.
Based on significant recycling and efficient use of resources, Nissan's Resende plant is designed to achieve one of the lowest rates of landfill use by June 2015. The goal is to have less than 0.5 percent plant resources become unusable waste.
Nissan Green Program 2016 promotes activities not only in development and manufacturing departments associated with the production of automobiles, but also in sales, service and all other departments of the company. Even with its plans to increase sales volume globally, Nissan forecasts that through the initiative CO2 emissions from its new vehicles and corporate activities will peak in the 2020s and then subside while the volume of new natural resources used will be maintained at the level of the 2010s.
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