April 30, 2013
Volkswagen Chattanooga: Where the Passat is born.
The seventh generation Volkswagen Passat was designed and engineered in Germany, but is built in Tennessee at one of the world’s most advanced automotive manufacturing facilities. Volkswagen Chattanooga, located southwest of the city’s downtown area, is the only automotive plant worldwide to earn the Leadership in Energy and Design (LEED) Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. How does a manufacturing facility earn such a designation? It takes environmental protection and corporate social responsibility very seriously.
The Volkswagen Chattanooga plant was built on a brownfield site where creeks that were previously in poor condition were relocated and revived, the wetlands on property were untouched during construction and are now protected to preserve natural habitats and there are four storm-water basins that collect rain to reduce discharge. The plant itself was also constructed with environmental responsibility top-of-mind. It uses a minimalistic lighting strategy – large windows reduce the need for artificial lighting, LED motion sensing lights are utilized and save 110,000 kwh/year, and lights along the assembly line are turned off when employees are on break (Snyder, 2012). Specific areas of the facility’s roof collect rainwater for reuse in washrooms, saving approximately 350,000 gallons every month, and the innovative paint shop employs an ‘eco dry scrubber’ which uses limestone powder to collect paint sludge instead of water, saving an additional 20,000 gallons of H20 daily (Volkswagen Group of America, 2013). Moreover, VW now has a four-coat paint process that eliminates the need for a primer coat, saving energy and paint, and cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 20% (Volkswagen Group of America, 2013)! Finally, the property has two rail hubs, where 85% of the vehicles made are loaded onto trains and transported across North America. On average, trains are up to four times more fuel efficient than large trucks and thus further assist in cutting environmental costs.
In January of 2013, the Passat plant opened a 33-acre, $28 million dollar solar-energy park, which generates approximately 12.5% of the energy required to run the facility during full production and 100% off production (Volkswagen Group of America, 2013). Unlike the energy saving practices discussed above which are sustainable and reduce costs, the goal of the solar park investment is part of VW’s ‘Think Blue’ strategy and adds to their environmentally responsible image, not necessarily the bottom line.
The world’s “greenest auto plant”, employs around 3100 people, and builds around 650 Passats per day, six days a week (Nordlicht, 2013). Vollkswagen Chattanooga is hoping to gain production of the upcoming seven-seater, midsize SUV – the CrossBlue, which made its debut at this year’s North American International Auto Show. With the popularity of SUVs in the North American market, it seems like producing Volkswagen’s latest sport-utility in the U.S. would be a very suitable decision.
So next time your in the market for a new, eco-friendly vehicle, don’t just evaluate fuel efficiency ratings, but look at the bigger picture and consider what (if any) environmentally responsible measures were taken to build it.
Click here to learn more about the Volkswagen Passat and virtually build your own.
Nordlicht, D. (2013, April 10). Volkswagen chattanooga: Blending germany and america. Retrieved from http://rumors.automobilemag.com/volkswagen-chattanooga-blending-germany-and-america-216709.html
Snyder, S. (Producer) (2012). Leeding the way - volkswagen of chattanooga [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uaVTmoHeTI
Volkswagen Group of America. (2013, February 04). Epa recognizes volkswagen group of america chattanooga operations among nation's leading green power users. Retrieved from http://media.vw.com/newsrelease.do?&id=1356&allImage=1&teaser=epa-recognizes-volkswagen-group-america-chattanooga-operations-llc&mid=
Volkswagen Group of America. (2013, January 23). Volkswagen chattanooga powers up largest solar park in tennessee. Retrieved from http://media.vw.com/pressrelease/1349/1/volkswagen-chattanooga-powers-up-largest-solar-park-tennessee
Volkswagen U.S.A. (2011). Volkswagen chattanooga: More than a plant that builds cars [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0UqfGCKX98
Taylor Moffitt at 10:13 AM
Name: Taylor Moffitt
Last Post: August 28, 2014
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