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US car firm to build Brazil’s first of its kind solar powered plant

Sustainable manufacturing plant will use solar energy to heat water and power facility equivalent to over 280 homes

The solar powered plant will be the first of its kind for Brazil’s automotive in
The solar powered plant will be the first of its kind for Brazil’s automotive industry

A US automotive firm is to build an engine plant set to house Brazil’s first solar energy system for the automotive industry. General Motors is pioneering several environmental practices in its construction of the engine plant in Joinville, southern Brazil.

The sustainable initiatives include the first solar energy system in the Brazilian automotive industry. This involves using solar energy to power the plant’s lighting on the manufacturing floors and administrative offices - an amount equal to the energy consumption of 285 Brazilian homes. It will avoid 10 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

Solar energy will also be used to heat 15,000 litres of water per year – equal to the consumption of 750 people. The system will reduce natural gas costs and avoid 17.6 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

“We are one of the first companies in Brazil to push environmental innovation into the manufacturing space,” said Grace Lieblein, president of GM do Brasil. “Sustainability is in the DNA of our company, and we are incorporating environmental features into our facilities from the ground up.”

The facility will also be the first to introduce a water recycling process using reverse osmosis and employ a new way of treating sewage and wastewater by a wetland process. It will also be the first GM landfill-free plant in the country.

These sustainable features are expected to accredit the plant for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

If successful in securing LEED status, it will join GM’s Lansing Delta Township assembly plant in Michigan and its China Headquarters in Shanghai in earning the distinction.

The engine plant is expected to start operating by the end of the year. GM also is building a transmission plant with similar green innovations in the same industrial complex slated for production in 2014. The company is investing more than USD 513m in the construction of the two plants.