General Motors Orion assembly plant in Orion, Michigan, is powering 40 percent of production of the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano with landfill gas for an annual savings of $1.1 million in energy costs, the company said.
During most of the year, the system runs exclusively on landfill gas primarily to generate steam for heating and compressed air. The energy program also cuts the amount of greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides released in the air — by about 80,000 metric tons calculated at a full three-shift capacity.
Other environmental initiatives of the facility include cutting total waste by 26 percent from 2005 to 2009. Some of the diverted material is directed to the cars being made. For example, recycled cardboard packaging from Orion and other GM plants and used denim are part of the Verano’s sound insulation – as Ford did with the Focus. Lighting system upgrades have saved more than 5,944 megawatts of electricity per year and $430,000 while reducing CO2 by about 3,700 metric tons.
An upgraded paint shop uses half the energy per vehicle as the one it replaced. Both the Sonic and Verano use a new paint that eliminates the need for a primer oven and increases quality and appearance due to waterborne base coats. Production of the vehicles will begin at Orion later this fall for sales at the end of the year, the company said.