Honda Auto Plants Earn 'Energy Star' from EPA

TORRANCE, Calif. - Honda’s auto plants in Alabama and Ohio have received Energy Star awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These awards are based on advances in curbing energy use during the production of passenger cars and light trucks.

For the fiscal year that ended Mar. 31, 2008, Honda’s average CO2 emissions per vehicle produced in North America were at their lowest levels since the company began measuring results in 2001. The EPA bases the award points on the amount of energy needed to produce an automobile, and includes factors such as vehicle size and production volume.

In Alabama, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama , which produces the Odyssey minivan, Pilot sport utility vehicle and Ridgeline pick-up truck, as well as the V-6 engines for each vehicle, earned the Energy Star award for reducing energy use. HMA implemented an initiative to monitor the use of equipment between shifts, during lunch and breaks, and on weekends. The monitoring program helped reduce electrical use on the paint line by 10 million kilowatt hours, representing nearly 7 million pounds of CO2.

“At Honda, we’re committed to improving energy efficiency of our manufacturing facilities,” said Mark Morrison, manager of corporate affairs for Honda’s Alabama operations. “We’re committed to creating cutting-edge technologies that balance environmental responsibilities with our customers’ needs for performance and safety.”

HMA, along with Honda’s auto plants in Ohio , are implementing a unique “intelligent paint booth” technology that reduces energy consumption and related CO2 emissions as much as 25 percent. Automobile body painting consumes large amounts of energy, because automakers need to condition the temperature and the relative humidity of the air to achieve the desired product appearance and finish quality. Developed by Honda, the system uses a predictive control mechanism to keep the temperature and humidity within specifications, even as weather conditions change.

“Our objective is to reduce the CO2 emissions throughout Honda’s manufacturing operations,” said Gary Smith of Company Facilities at Honda of America Manufacturing, who worked with EPA on the project. “Initiatives like these are helping meet our commitments to reduce the environmental impact of product manufacturing.”

In Ohio, Honda of America Manufacturing Inc.‘s Marysville Auto Plant and the East Liberty Auto Plant both earned top energy performance scores of 100 points and they continue to find new ways to reduce the use of electricity and natural gas. Most of these activities have focused on the use of more efficient lighting, chiller systems, motors, metering, heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The Marysville plant produces the Honda Accord sedan and coupe, and the Acura TL and RDX, while the East Liberty plant manufactures the Honda CR-V, Civic sedan and Element.

“Improving the energy efficiency of Honda factories is the single biggest focus to reduce the impact of our manufacturing operations on climate change,” said Smith. “We have launched significant efforts throughout our operations to reduce the energy intensity of automobile production.”

At the Marysville plant, associates significantly reduced electrical use by reprogramming plastic injection molding machines to run only during the production cycle. This has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 80,000 pounds per year. At the East Liberty plant, Honda replaced older chiller pumps with smaller more efficient units that reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 508,000 pounds per year.

In addition, Honda’s strategy of building products in the markets where they are sold helps to reduce energy, emissions and waste associated with the transportation of products and component parts. Approximately 80 percent of the vehicles Honda sells in the U.S. are produced in North America .

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