Landfill gas to power 40% of GM's Orion Assembly Plant

When production of the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano kicks off this fall, 40 percent of the energy that powers General Motors' Orion Assembly Plant will come from methane captured from a nearby landfill site. This use of the landfill gas will reduce GM's energy costs by $1.1 million a year and cut the amount of greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides released into the atmosphere.

Use of landfill gas is one of several methods GM is using to lessen the Orion Assembly Plant's environmental impact. Others include: lighting system upgrades that will save an estimated 5,944 megawatts of electricity per year while also slashing CO2 emissions by 3,676 metric tons and an upgraded paint shop that's heated by natural and landfill gas and uses approximately half of the energy (per vehicle) of the outdated paint shop that it replaced.

Maureen Midgley, GM's executive director of global manufacturing engineering, says that these modifications will enable the Orion Assembly Plant to "reduce greenhouse gas production by about 80,000 metric tons at a full three-shift capacity." That's roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions from 14,000 vehicles.

[Source: General Motors]
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Landfill Gas Powers GM Plant for New Fuel-Sipping Cars

Provides 40 percent of energy to build Chevrolet Sonic, Buick Verano


ORION TOWNSHIP, Mich. – When production of the fuel-efficient 2012 Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano begin this fall, 40 percent of the energy to power the General Motors Orion Assembly Plant where they are built will come from burning landfill gas created nearby.

The use of the landfill gas, which saves GM $1.1 million a year in energy costs, also cuts the amount of greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides released in the air. During most of the year, the system runs exclusively on landfill gas primarily to generate steam for heating and compressed air.

"Orion is a great example of the latest technologies employed by GM manufacturing around the globe," said Eric Stevens, GM vice president of Global Manufacturing Engineering. "As we converted the facility to support the small car program, we took every opportunity to engineer in flexibility and lean manufacturing concepts."

Use of landfill gas is just one of the sustainable methods that lessen the plant's environmental impact. Others include:

* Lighting system upgrades that saved more than 5,944 megawatts of electricity per year and $430,000 while also cutting CO2 by 3,676 metric tons. Plant workers track energy use on an hourly basis with sophisticated software, enabling them to see real-time usage by department to improve their equipment shut-down activities.
* Plant workers reduced total waste by 26 percent from 2005 to 2009.
* An upgraded paint shop is heated by natural and landfill gas, and uses half of the energy per vehicle of the one it replaced. Both the Sonic and Verano use a new eco paint that eliminates the need for a primer oven and increases quality and appearance due to waterborne base coats.

"Environmentally friendly choices often translate to higher efficiency and quality," said Maureen Midgley, GM executive director of Global Manufacturing Engineering. "Take our new paint shop – it was designed for optimal efficiency and delivers premium paint appearance for our vehicles.

"With these improvements, we'll reduce greenhouse gas production by about 80,000 metric tons at a full three-shift capacity," Midgley said. "This is equivalent to the emissions from 14,000 vehicles per year, and the electricity reduction equals at the output from 3,500 homes."

Some of the diverted material is directed to the cars being made. Recycled cardboard packaging from Orion and other GM plants and used denim are part of the Verano's sound insulation.

Orion also has embraced flexible manufacturing, allowing it to quickly respond to changes in customer preferences. Production lines were reworked, creating more space to house material onsite that once took up space in other buildings. This approach reduces the overall environmental impact of the plant's material systems, but it also provides significant cost savings to the overall small car program.

The 2012 turbocharged Chevrolet Sonic is a small car available in five-door and sedan models.

The 2012 Buick Verano compact sedan includes 10 standard air bags, an available heated steering wheel and a next-generation radio system with OnStar-powered connectivity.

Production of both vehicles will begin at Orion later this fall. They will be on sale by the end of the year.

General Motors (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM), one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 202,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 30 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall, and Wuling. GM's largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Italy. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on the new General Motors can be found at

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