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Better Buildings, Better Plants: Volvo Boosting Energy Efficiency at Truck Manufacturing Facility

April 10, 2014 - 5:30pm

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Competitive manufacturing is a driving force behind America’s growing clean energy economy, and energy efficiency is one strategy many manufacturing facilities can use to improve their competitiveness.  Industrial plants and facilities in the United States require incredible amounts of energy each year – about $200 billion worth.  Reducing energy use by just a small fraction can yield not only big savings, but also jobs and a better environment. 

To help industry capture these savings, the Energy Department established the Better Buildings, Better Plants program, a public-private partnership for improving the energy efficiency of manufacturing facilities throughout the country.  With more than 120 participating manufacturers representing 8% of the total U.S. manufacturing energy footprint, the savings are adding up.

One Better Buildings, Better Plants partner, Volvo Group North America, has achieved 16% savings across all of its U.S. plants, moving rapidly toward its longer-term goal of 25% improved energy efficiency within ten years. Volvo Group has improved the energy intensity (e.g., energy required per truck) at one plant -- the New River Valley plant  in Dublin, Virginia -- by 26% over a three year period.

Last week, I toured the 1.6-million-square-foot New River plant, which is Volvo Group’s largest truck manufacturing plant in the world and produces Class 8 trucks weighing more than 33,000 pounds.  I saw first hand some of their energy efficiency projects which include improving the ventilation systems in their spray booths, adding more daylighting, moving to high efficiency fans and LED lighting in the assembly area, and installing a passive solar wall to supplement heating.   

Volvo Group demonstrates leadership in energy efficiency using strategies such as:

  • Setting savings goals and measuring progress;
  • Requiring energy team members to review and approve purchases made by the plant;
  • Empowering employees to use their front-line knowledge to suggest energy efficiency projects;
  • Reinvesting savings from energy efficiency projects – about $1.2 million to date – into future efficiency efforts, in turn generating more savings.

Volvo Group has taken strategic energy management to the next level at this facility.  The New River Valley plant has been certified under a new Energy Department effort called Superior Energy Performance (SEP).  SEP helps individual facilities establish energy baselines, savings targets, and measurement plans appropriate for the processes used and the goods produced at a facility.  SEP recognizes the achievement of significant energy savings through third-party certification.

Volvo Group is looking to expand SEP certification to additional plants and is participating in the Energy Department’s Better Buildings, Industrial Superior Energy Performance Accelerator to help demonstrate models for effectively expanding SEP across an organization.

Learn more about Volvo Group’s energy efficiency efforts  through the Better Buildings, Better Plants program to save energy, reduce emissions, and move the economy forward.  Better Buildings, Better Plants supports the goals of the Energy Department’s Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, which is strengthening U.S. competitiveness in the production of clean energy products and boosting the energy productivity of U.S. manufacturing across the board.

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