Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Headlights vs. Highlights: Season Four of Better Buildings SWAP Showcases General Motors and L'Oréal USA

April 24, 2018

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today unveiled the fourth installment of the "Better Buildings Challenge SWAP," featuring General Motors and L'Oréal USA. In this online video series, the companies swap energy management teams to gain new insights, save money and improve the energy performance of their industrial facilities. The result is an informative, behind the scenes look at what it takes to improve manufacturing competitiveness through energy efficiency.

Through the Better Buildings Challenge SWAP, DOE is partnering with private-sector businesses and public-sector organizations to successfully explore and share new ways to reduce their energy use and improve their productivity. The webisodes are an engaging, behind the scenes look at leaders in action and demonstrate the value of sharing ideas and best practices.

"General Motors and L'Oréal USA are taking this unique challenge and paving the way for other industrial companies to improve their energy efficiency and save money," said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Kathleen Hogan. "This is a rare opportunity to see these energy leaders in action, learn how American products are manufactured and understand how to apply their energy management expertise to buildings and facilities nationwide."

In North Little Rock, Arkansas, L'Oréal USA handed over the reins of its largest cosmetics plant to the General Motors team. They explored the manufacturing lines for powders, mascara, lip gloss, and nail polish, hunting for chances to improve efficiency through better monitoring of air leaks, optimizing heating and more. Along with their improvement opportunities, the General Motors team also walked away with new ideas for making energy efficiency more personal for employees, inspired by L'Oréal USA's employee engagement initiatives, including the solar stanchions named for each of the more than 300 employees in the North Little Rock facility's 1.2 MW solar array.

"Having GM visit was a bit intimidating in the beginning, but it was a pleasure to get their insights on where we can improve and introduce them to some of our successes," said Carlos Ruiz Rabago, Senior Vice President Manufacturing North America, L'Oréal. "I'm proud of the work we have done to make innovative energy efficiency improvements and build a culture of sustainability, and I think they were inspired too."

In Detroit, Michigan, The L'Oréal USA team took the keys to General Motors' Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant where the Chevrolet Volt and Impala, Cadillac CT6, and Buick LaCrosse are made. The L'Oréal USA team uncovered opportunities to improve, like shutting down compressed air systems on the production line at the end of the day. After seeing General Motors in action, the L'Oréal USA team plans to adapt the automaker's process for energy-efficiency treasure hunts, and looks forward to implementing similar tactics across its plants.

"L'Oréal's visit was a little daunting at first," said Al Hildreth, Global Energy Manager, General Motors. "It's easy to walk into someone else's plant and start pointing out the flaws, but it takes a little getting used to when the critical eye is on you. I think both teams recognized a lot of similarities in how we operate and built some mutual respect. Along with getting L'Oréal's insights, we were able to show them some innovative approaches to resource monitoring and management that we use here at Detroit-Hamtramck. I'm confident both of our operations have been improved by the SWAP experience."

Both L'Oréal USA and General Motors are partners in the Better Buildings, Better Plants Program. To date, nearly 200 industrial and water utility partners have partnered with DOE in this effort. Partners represent roughly 12% of the U.S. manufacturing energy footprint, amounting to 2,900 facilities in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. Better Plants partners have reported estimated cumulative energy cost savings of more than $4.2 billion.

The Better Buildings Challenge SWAP launched in 2016 featuring Hilton Worldwide and Whole Foods Market, followed by the U.S. Air Force Academy facing off against the U.S. Naval Academy in SWAP 2. In 2017, SWAP 3 launched featuring the Cities of Boston and Atlanta swapping energy teams. To date, the webisodes have been viewed more than 4.7 million times. To view the full Better Buildings Challenge SWAP web series and recommendations from this season or to learn more about the department's role in advancing energy efficiency in U.S. buildings, visit the Better Buildings Initiative.

Learn how partners are catalyzing change and investment in energy efficiency and discover their proven solutions in the Better Buildings Solution Center.