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Honda “Green Path”: Clearing the way to sustainability

When one thinks about what automakers can do to help the environment, the immediate thought may be “improve fuel efficiency” or “develop alternatives to gasoline.”

Both are important to reducing CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change. That’s why we’re developing zero emission vehicles and improved hybrid technology to meet the challenge of reducing CO2.

But reducing the environmental impact of automobiles, including CO2, is not just about improving fuel efficiency.

Designing, building, delivering, and selling a car also have environmental impacts that we are working to reduce or even eliminate. This holistic approach to reducing the impacts in all areas of our business is what we call “Green Path.”

"Green Path" means reducing or eliminating the use of substances of concern (SOCs) and scarce natural resources in the design of our vehicles. It means significantly reducing the CO2 emitted for each vehicle built in plants, and reducing the water use of our manufacturing operations. Green Path also means reducing CO2 emissions from the transportation of vehicles from our plants to dealers. And it means involving our U.S. Honda and Acura dealers in our "Green Dealer" program.

Designing for a Sustainable Future

“Green Path” starts with how Honda designs vehicles. We’re currently focused on three primary environmental goals when designing our vehicles:

1. Eliminate substances of concern from all Honda products
2. Develop vehicles and other products that are easier to recycle
3. Eliminate scarce materials from our designs

Manufacturing to Reduce Overall Impact

The biggest environmental impact from cars, other than driving them, is from building them. Auto plants use of a lot of energy and natural resources – and we are working to reduce that in every aspect of our operations.

The largest impact comes from the use of natural gas and electricity that create CO2 emissions.

Real-time monitoring of energy use allows us to identify where the energy use is high. Equipment can be turned off between production shifts and when production is not taking place.

Auto body painting is one of the processes that consumes the most energy in our plants. We have developed a method to reduce energy-use in the painting process which has allowed us to significantly reduce our plants’ overall energy use.

By implementing a wide range of programs, our energy use per auto has been reduced 14% over the past decade.

And it’s not just energy use. We’re also reducing waste: less than one-half of one-percent of our total waste from our 12 North American manufacturing plants goes to landfills.

And now we’re taking steps to create our own clean energy to further reduce our electricity use. Two onsite wind turbines at our Ohio transmission plant are generating 10,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year – or the equivalent of the average yearly energy use of 1,000 homes.

Smarter Shipping

Every day, we drive more than 900,000 miles delivering cars and parts to our dealers. That’s like driving across the United States 257 times…every day. Shipping parts to our plants and finished products to dealers have impacts on the environment.

We move about 80% of our cars from our plants by train. It’s about four times more efficient to deliver cars by rail than by truck, and it also allows us to reduce our CO2 emissions between 60%-80% compared to using only trucks.

Still there’s always room for improvement. Honda helped design the Auto-Max railcar that allows us to load more vehicles on to one single railcar, which means even less fuel consumption and fewer emissions.

We still use trucks, and our truck carriers are taking initiatives to reduce CO2 as well. In fact 100% of our truck carriers are EPA SmartWay certified, a program that rates transportation efficiency. Our goal is to cut emissions by 1/3 for every vehicle that we ship.

“Green Dealers”

Auto dealerships have a number of energy needs, from bright lights in their showrooms and parking lots to auto service bays and car washes. That doesn’t mean they can’t also take a leadership role in being environmentally responsible businesses.

Honda has developed a set of best practices that help dealers measurably reduce their energy and water use. Honda Environmental Leadership Program helps our dealers plan to reduce CO2 emissions to zero.

Our “Green Dealers” program focuses on using more-efficient lighting and installing solar panels that generate all the power they need to run their operations. Ron Rossi Honda of Vineland New Jersey, became the nation’s first auto dealer to achieve “electric-grid neutral status,” meaning it produces as much or more electricity from on-site renewable energy than it consumes from the electric utility each year.

We’re constantly challenging ourselves to find new opportunities to reduce our environmental impact throughout our vehicles lifestyle. Ultimately it’s a win for Honda, a win for our customers and a win for the environment.