It’s been a good year for Volkswagen, particularly for its Chattanooga, TN plant. In September, the Environmental Protection Agency tapped the Chattanooga facility for its annual Green Power Leadership Award for Onsite Generation. The EPA’s annual award recognizes green power users across the country in a variety of sectors. Chattanooga, which is #15 on the EPA’s list of top 30 onsite generation plants, produces 12 percent of the energy it uses during peak periods from its solar park and 100 percent of the power it uses during non-peak periods.
This month Volkswagen was selected by the World Environment Center to receive the nonprofit’s 2014 Gold Metal Award for Sustainable Development. The WEC, which is based in Washington, DC and has satellite offices in Munich, Germany and San Salvador El Salvador, refers to itself as a “non-profit, non-advocacy organization” that supports exploration in sustainable development. Its membership includes some of the world’s top manufacturers, including Chevron, Shell, Wal-Mart, IBM, Dow Chemical and DuPont. It also includes four of the world’s top automotive manufacturers: Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and of course, Volkswagen.
According to a statement released by Volkswagen, the WEC nominations were evaluated by a panel chaired by University of Pittsburgh Professor Emeritus Joel Abrams that includes a cross-section of retired industry specialists, government, non-government and academic professionals.
In August the automaker announced that the Chattanooga plant would serve as the template for future plants throughout the world. In addition to reducing carbon emissions through alternative energy sources, Chattanooga’s Think Blue Factory model has reduced the plant’s annual water usage by more than 20 percent. It has done this through using captured rainwater in flush toilets and by eliminating a final step in the painting process. It has also experimented with ways to reduce heat island effect at the Southern U.S. plant through a cool roof system and environmentally friendly land-use policies that sustain wildlife and support natural habitat. Many of the features that are used in Chattanooga are now being implemented in plants in Mexico, China and other parts of the world.
The WEC Gold Metal is expected to be formally awarded to Volkswagen at the WEC’s award ceremony in Washington, DC on May 15, 2014.