Alabama’s Auto Industry Goes Green

Posted on June 23, 2010


On the 26th of last month, while visiting the Mercedes Benz Center in Vance, Alabama, Governor Bob Riley announced that the state would be joining forces with the EPA’s E3 initiative to improve the auto industry’s green manufacturing processes.

E3 stands for “economy, energy and environment” and is an effort at the national, state and local level to help businesses operate more efficiently while also cutting back on any negative impact manufacturers might have on the environment. Specifically, the program’s goals are to:
(i) make manufacturing plants more energy efficient and cost effective by offering technical assessments, advice and support,
(ii) reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing plants through green manufacturing practices and improvements,
(iii) improve the regional economy by retaining jobs in more competitive companies and positioning them for growth and job creating in emerging green industries,
(iv) create incumbent workers certified in a variety of “green skills”,
(v) assist manufacturers to grow and succeed in a sustainable business environment,
(vi) reduce overall carbon emissions by decreasing energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency of facilities.

Current E3 pilot projects are operating in Columbus, Ohio and San Antonio, Texas. In Columbus, federal agencies have partnered with E3 to conduct technical assessments and provide training to six participating manufacturers, the local government, the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, and American Power. In San Antonio, the EPA, Department of Commerce, CPS Energy, and the city government are working with six manufacturers in a similar fashion.

E3 operates under the umbrella of the Green Suppliers Network, which is a joint venture between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. Department of Labor, the Department of Energy and the Small Business Administration are also part of and contribute to the E3 program. The Green Suppliers Network helps businesses “stay competitive and profitable while reducing their impact on the environment,” according to its website. The Network’s website also states that it intends to help all companies “maximize energy efficiency, reduce environmental wastes, identify opportunities for reducing carbon emissions, promote sustainable manufacturing practices and growth and reduce business costs.” In short, E3 and the Network want to help small- and mid-sized companies throughout the country become “lean and clean.”

As of last month, Alabama is also part of this growing E3 initiative. According to WSFA 12 News out of Montgomery, Governor Riley said, “In this challenging economy, we must use innovation, collaboration and all available tools to help our manufacturers gain a competitive advantage. The result will be a stronger and healthier economy for Alabama with more jobs and less energy consumption.”

Also according to WSFA 12 News, Alabama Power Company, Alabama Gas Corporation, the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association and the Business Council of Alabama have joined forces with governmental agencies to help 15 auto manufacturers and suppliers adhere to E3 standards. These 15 companies are located in or around Montgomery, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This is most welcome news for our state and its environment. I look forward to seeing more Alabama companies joining the E3 program and becoming “lean and clean.”

Russell M. Cunningham, IV
Cunningham Firm, LLC