Value of Decarbonization in Auto Industry


General Motors vision is a world with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.  One of our missions is to create sustainable solutions that improve the communities in which we live and work.  Energy use is a large non-discretionary expense incurred in our all of our operations and contributes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  At General Motors Company (GM), although our expenditure for energy is not a large percentage of our total cost, we do spend globally about $1 billion USD annually.  GHG emissions from energy use represent about 6 million metric tons per year of GM’s carbon footprint, equivalent to the energy use of 1 million homes.   Hence, a robust process is needed for Energy management.  Management of energy and carbon to reduce environmental impact has become important enough to be included in GM’s business plan, like safety, people, quality, responsiveness, and cost.   Following a model, shown in Figure 1, like EPA ENERGY STAR®’s seven step approach [1], energy as an environmental element has been integrated into GM’s business plan.   Based on top level commitment and our new public goal is to reduce absolute GHG from our operations by 31 percent from 2010 to 2030 coupled with a 100% renewable energy commitment by 2050 (RE-100), 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.

Scorecards and Energy dashboards assist with the vast amount of data and analysis and focuses us on the corrective actions needed for performance to our goals.   Understanding the impact of the remaining carbon emissions from the use of sold vehicles, life cycle of auto parts in the supply chain, and logistics helps us plan to reduce our total carbon footprint.   This paper will discuss the methods used for total carbon accounting, best practices for carbon reduction in our operations, and the value proposition to decarbonize the industry.

Presented By

Alfred Hildreth, P.E., C.E.M.
Global Energy Manager
General Motors Company

Al Hildreth is global energy manager for General Motors, overseeing the company’s energy management practices, including carbon, energy and water conservation. Hildreth also manages the teams responsible for energy use at all of GM’s facilities around the world.

Under his leadership, GM has saved $250 million in energy costs and earned recognition as an EPA ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence eight years for superior energy management.

Hildreth is a co-chair of the Automotive Industry Action Group’s Environmental Sustainability Action and Greenhouse Gas and Water Work Groups, collaborating with OEMs and suppliers on GHG and Water reporting and reduction. He also leads GM’s work to share best practices with suppliers on mitigating carbon emissions through CDP Supply Chain.

Hildreth has worked for GM for 40 years and recently became a GM technical fellow. He spent 10 years with GM’s former Saturn brand in Spring Hill, Tennessee, and five years in Europe and Asia helping develop best practices for carbon and energy management. Before joining GM, Hildreth worked for a research and development company that designed and manufactured air pollution control equipment.

He holds a patent through the U.S. Patent Office for an energy forecasting model and is co-author of “Analytics for Smart Energy Management,” a college textbook offering tools for energy management for businesses

Hildreth earned a Bachelor of Science in engineering from Oakland University and a Master of Science in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic University. He is a Certified Energy Manager.