GM’s Robust Energy Management Meets “Challenge For Industry”

  • Alfred J. Hildreth
  • Seog-Chan Oh
Keywords: Robust Energy Management


Energy use is a large essential expense incurred by manufacturers or facility operators that contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. At General Motors (GM), although our expenditure for energy is not a large percentage of our total cost, we do spend in excess of $1 billion annually. GHG emissions from energy use represent over 7 million metric tons per year of GM’s carbon footprint. Hence, a robust energy management business process is needed to meet the challenge for industry. Management of energy and carbon to reduce environmental impact has become important enough to be included in our business plan, just as safety, people, quality, responsiveness, and cost are. Following a model similar to EPA Energy Star’s seven step approach, energy as an environmental element has been integrated into GM’s business policy and model. Based on top-level commitment and public goals to reduce energy and GHG by 20% from 2010-2020, GM uses its standardized global manufacturing system (GMS) to ensure that energy efficiency and conservation is properly managed through performance assessment, action plans, evaluating progress, and recognizing achievements. The methods used to integrate energy management into our business plan include dedicated resources at all levels in the organization. With people as one of our most important resources, having qualified energy leaders at the corporate, global, regional, and site levels is key to our success. A dedicated budget for systems and projects is required to implement initiatives, similar to other areas of the business. Forecasting energy, establishing targets, implementing projects and processes, regular monitoring, and corrective action when required ensures timely adherence to meeting our energy and carbon goals. GM recognizes achievements internally with various processes—plant energy performance recognition, employee suggestions, employee compensation tied to business results, and others. Also, GM’s recognition of our energy performance includes many external awards and recognitions: EPA Energy Star labels for two facilities; meeting Energy Star’s challenge for industry for 54 plants globally over the past year, avoiding $90 million expenditure and 1.2 million metric tons of GHG emissions; winning a 2012 Energy Star partner of the year award in energy management; and many global, regional, and local awards for protecting the environment.


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Author Biographies

Alfred J. Hildreth

Al Hildreth, PE, CEM, is the company energy manager for General Motors, focusing on energy and utility budgets, metrics, benchmarking, efficiency projects, water and carbon reporting. He has worked for GM for over 30 years, including five years in Europe and Asia and 10 years with Saturn Corporation in Spring Hill, TN. He previously worked for a manufacturer of air pollution control equipment in R&D. He is a registered professional engineer, certified energy manager, and a certified hazardous materials manager. He received his B.S. degree in engineering from Oakland University and a M.S. degree in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Seog-Chan Oh

Seog-Chan Oh, Ph.D., is a senior researcher at the General Motors Research and Development Center, Warren, MI where he has worked on research and development activities in advanced manufacturing area including wireless manufacturing, network-centric manufacturing, and sustainable manufacturing since 2007. He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees from Dongguk University in 1993 and 1996, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree from Pennsylvania State University in 2006. Before he began his Ph.D. studies, he was an IT consultant for seven years at Daewoo Information Systems.


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