GM’s China Facility Awarded Green Status and What’s a Landfill-Free Manufacturing?

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GM China ATC Green Facility

With China’s dire pollution problem rapidly increasing, it’s good to know an American company is making sure China goes green – and in a big way. GM has announced its China Advanced Technical Center (ATC) in Shanghai has been awarded “silver certification” by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

GM says its ATC building houses facilities for research and development, advanced design, vehicle engineering, powertrain engineering and telematics laboratories. While the first phase of this huge ATC campus opened in September 2011 and the second phase in November 2012, it took until 2013 for this next-generation facility to achieve “green” status.

How did GM engineers go so green? First, they adopted a series of green building best practices and technologies as outlined in the LEED certification program, including:

  • Interior and exterior lighting design to reduce light pollution
  • Paving and roofing materials to reduce the heat island effect
  • Water use design to save up to 30% of water used
  • Optimizing energy usage with energy efficient strategies for glazing, lighting and HVAC
  • Enhanced refrigerant material usage
  • Use of recycled and regional material content for construction
  • Increased building air ventilation
  • Use of low-emitting materials such as adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, and carpets
  • Indoor chemical pollution control
  • Controllability of lighting for energy savings

“As China’s most advanced automotive technical development center, the ATC has an opportunity to lead the way in protecting the environment,” says GM China President Bob Socia. “This is in line with our commitment to help create a greener, safer and healthier community for the people of China.”

Don’t think GM is truly committed to a green China? GM’s China HQ building – which is adjacent to the ATC campus – was awarded LEED “gold certification” in Dec. 2010 and has been recognized in the country for what GM claims is the “international operations” building as having a “high level of energy efficiency and environmentally friendly design and construction.”

Beyond China, GM says it has been recognized for recycling more waste from its facilities around the world than any other automaker. In fact, so says GM, the company has “recycled or reused 2.5 million metric tons of waste – the equivalent of 38 million garbage bags – at its plants worldwide in 2011.”

Have you ever heard of landfill-free facilities?

GM operates ten of them in China with seven operated by Shanghai GM and three by GM’s China partner, SAIC-GM-Wuling. GM says these facilities are part of their stamping, assembly and casting operations. GM claims that all energy from these “landfill-free” plants are reused, recycled or converted to energy as part of their everyday operations. GM claims to operation 105 of these landfill-free operations around the world.