World’s First Green Paint Shop
BMW Manufacturing Co. is now using recycled methane gas generated by the Palmetto Landfill near Spartanburg to provide energy to its paint shop, reducing area emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, by 17,000 tons and recovering enough energy to heat 10,000 homes a year.
BMW Manufacturing gained international recognition four years ago, when the automotive manufacturer announced in June of 2002 that a 9.5-mile pipeline was constructed from the landfill to its facility to provide some of the plant’s energy needs. In May, the plant began using recycled methane gas in its paint shop, the part of the facility that consumes about 50 percent of the plant’s total energy. The innovative recycling program will also save the company a seven figure sum annually in energy costs.
"The energy saved is significant - equivalent to the energy needed to drive a car around the globe 4,300 times or more than 100 million miles. This project allows us to take a previously wasted energy source and use it to generate electricity, which protects the environment and our community through lower emissions," said Robert M. Hitt, department manager for Public Affairs at BMW Manufacturing Co. "Landfills are the largest human-made methane source in the United States. Methane gas is a source of energy that is considered a greenhouse gas and otherwise contributes to air pollution."
The efficient cogeneration of electricity and hot water has been a part of BMW’s overall plan since construction of this plant began in 1993. The move to use recycled landfill gas to power the paint shop began in 2004. The manufacturing plant in Spartanburg is part of BMW’s global production network, which has reduced CO2 emissions by 30 percent in the last ten years.
BMW is working with long-standing partner Durr Systems of Plymouth, Mich., to modify and upgrade equipment so landfill gas can be used to fuel the paint shop. Durr Systems specializes in developing and implementing energy performance projects in industrial facilities and is a partner in the Environmental Protections Agency’s (EPA) Landfill Methane Outreach Program, which helps businesses lower operating costs, protect the environment and build a sustainable future.
Durr Systems is an industrial service and product provider with the tools and expertise to develop and implement energy performance improvements projects in industrial facilities. Ameresco designed, built and owns the pipeline, gas processing and gas compression facilities as well as manages the overall operations of the project. Waste Management, which owns and operates the Palmetto Landfill, currently supplies landfill gas to 69 gas-to-energy projects in 21 states.
BMW is a charter member of the EPA’s National Environmental Performance Track that recognizes companies for their environmental stewardship and performance. The company is also a member of the South Carolina Environmental Excellence Program. BMW Group is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Group Index since 1999. This index is based on a thorough assessment of corporate economic, environmental and social performance. According to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index review in 2005, the BMW Group is an industry leader in sustainability. BMW Group is also a member of the Global compact of the United Nations.