Saturday, May 06, 2006

Green Janesville

Janesville, Wisconsin has been dubbed 'Park City'. That's about the extent of its participation in serious environmentalism. I was surprised to discover, however, that Janesville is on the cutting edge of environmental protection. Oddly our concern for the welfare of Earth starts with our G.M. plant and its 3,800 employees.

"Today, the facility builds the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Yukon XL, Yukon Denali, Yukon Denali XL and Isuzu/GM Low Cab Forward medium-duty truck. In calendar year 2004 the plant produced almost 220,000 vehicles."1.


Most first impressions would assume that Janesville, therefore, leads the league in Earth's demise. Not so fast, my friend.

"CNW Marketing Research Inc. spent two years collecting data on the energy necessary to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle from initial concept to scrappage. This includes such minutia as plant to dealer fuel costs, employee driving distances, electricity usage per pound of material used in each vehicle and literally hundreds of other variables."

"To put the data into understandable terms for consumers, it was translated into a "dollars per lifetime mile" figure. That is, the Energy Cost per mile driven...."

"...For example, the Honda Accord Hybrid has an Energy Cost per Mile of $3.29 while the conventional Honda Accord is $2.18. Put simply, over the "Dust to Dust" lifetime of the Accord Hybrid, it will require about 50 percent more energy than the non-hybrid version."

"One of the reasons hybrids cost more than non-hybrids is the manufacture, replacement and disposal of such items as batteries, electric motors (in addition to the conventional engine), lighter weight materials and complexity of the power package."

"And while many consumers and environmentalists have targeted sport utility vehicles because of their lower fuel economy and/or perceived inefficiency as a means of transportation, the energy cost per mile shows at least some of that disdain is misplaced."

"For example, while the industry average of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2005 was $2.28 cents per mile, the Hummer H3 (among most SUVs) was only $1.949 cents per mile. That figure is also lower than all currently offered hybrids and Honda Civic at $2.42 per mile."

"If a consumer is concerned about fuel economy because of family budgets or depleting oil supplies, it is perfectly logical to consider buying high- fuel-economy vehicles," says Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research, Inc. "But if the concern is the broader issues such as environmental impact of energy usage, some high-mileage vehicles actually cost society more than conventional or even larger models over their lifetime."
...2. (Emphasis mine)

So... on behalf of the good, compassionate, and caring citizens of Janesville and the employees of our G.M. plant, I gladly accept this year's 'Gaia* Award' for our efforts to save our beloved planet. I would like to thank all the little people that made this labor of love possible.

(*Gaia: The goddess of the earth, who bore and married Uranus.)

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