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Michigan Businesses Leading in Energy Efficiency

From GM, Ford, and Dow Chemical to Whirlpool, Penske, and Ally Financial, Michigan is home to some of the world’s leading companies.

These and other Michigan companies large and small are also becoming leaders in energy efficiency by producing some of the most efficient products on the planet—as well as by making their own operations and facilities more energy efficient.

Whirlpool Wins

In April, Whirlpool Corporation—headquartered in Benton Harbor— was “recognized once again by the Environmental Protection Agency for its commitment to making energy-efficient products.” Whirlpool is the recipient of the agency’s 2015 ENERGY STAR “Partner of the Year” award for its “outstanding contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by manufacturing energy-efficient products and educating consumers about energy efficiency.”

In fact, since the 1970s, on average, Whirlpool “has decreased energy use by more than 75% in refrigeration while increasing capacity by 30%.” Today, Whirlpool refrigerators use “the same or less energy, in one year, as a 60 watt light bulb.”

Steelcase is Platinum

Another Michigan company recognized for its efficiency efforts is Grand Rapids-based office furniture manufacturer Steelcase, which earlier this year was named one of the world’s most admired companies by Fortune Magazine.

One big reason the company is so admired? Its new Innovation Center at its headquarters in Grand Rapids received a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certification—the highest level—from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2014 (Whirlpool’s North American Headquarters in Benton Harbor has also received a Platinum Certification).

Steelcase, which announced in March that its “renewable energy investment is equivalent to 100% of its global electricity consumption,” has decreased its energy use by 60% since 2001.

Automakers Speed Up Efficiency Efforts

Of course, no discussion of Michigan’s corporate energy efficiency efforts would be complete without including our state’s industry-leading automobile manufacturers, General Motors and the Ford Motor Company. Both are leaders in developing fuel-efficient cars and trucks—but they are also bringing efficiency to their facilities and operations, as well.

As the Detroit Free Press noted in April, Michigan “automakers learn green is the color of money.” GM, for example, recently “cut its energy bills $435 million by making its U.S. plants more efficient.”

Meanwhile, Ford’s Dearborn truck plant has become “a tourist attraction in part because it’s a showplace for the latest ways to make manufacturing energy efficient and waste-free.” For example, the plant’s “roof is covered with growing grass that reduces the building energy consumption and helps keep water in the local ecosystem rather than just funneling rain into storm drains.”

Efficiency Ahead

Big companies are big energy users. And that can have a big impact on our overall energy use—and their own bottom lines. That’s why so many Michigan-based companies are making such great strides in energy efficiency. Not only do these efforts help our state move toward a more sustainable energy future, but they also demonstrate that energy efficiency done right can be a win for the economy as well.