Volvo Meets DOE Energy Intensity Challenge

Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley manufacturing plant in Dublin, Virginia, reduced its energy intensity by nearly 30% in just one year, proving once again that all it takes is the will to make major improvements in energy use.

This makes it the first company to meet a 10-year challenge set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Save Energy Now LEADER Program.

In October 2009, DOE challenged the U.S. industrial sector to significantly reduce its energy consumption.

Volvo Trucks in North America and 31 other major companies pledged to reduce their energy intensity per unit of production by 25% over 10 years.

Volvo’s New River Valley plant, which produces all its trucks for North America, reduced its MMbtu per truck (the DOE metric for energy intensity) from 79.64 in 2009 to 60.42 in 2010 – a 29.6% reduction.

How did they do it? They simply established a team dedicated to making energy improvements. Team members agreed to pursue many small energy-saving tactics and also to attack the biggest energy-consuming processes, such as the paint operation.

They implemented standard green building features plant-side such as a building automation system that controls  temperatures and turns off lights; added solar PV, a passive solar wall and skylights; upgraded lighting fixtures (including LED), and installed infrared heaters and solar water heaters. 

They used the cost savings from these features to re-invest in further energy reduction strategies.

"To use a financial analogy, it’s not always easy to come up with an idea that saves $1,000, but it is usually possible to come up with 1,000 ideas that save one dollar each. In our case, we did both." says Chief Operating Officer Patrick Collignon, who served as vice president and general manager of the plant during the time in which the target was met.

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