The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

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Case study: How General Motors increases the energy efficiency of its facilities

As a leading global automaker, with 180,000 employees working in over 300 facilities around the globe and affiliations with almost 12,500 locally owned dealerships worldwide, General Motors (GM) seeks to reduce its operational impact, benefiting customers and, also, contributing to its aspiration of zero emissions.

This case study is based on the 2017 Sustainability Report by General Motors published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Abstract

GM is constantly looking for new ways to reduce the energy required to build its vehicles  Tweet This!, to not only reduce its environmental impact but also achieve significant cost savings. In order to increase the energy efficiency of its facilities GM took action to:
  • use ENERGY STAR initiatives to reduce energy intensity
  • organise energy treasure hunts
  • collaborate with university students and EDF fellows

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2017 Sustainability Report GM identified a range of material issues, such as customer satisfaction, vehicle safety, employee relations, vehicle efficiency & emissions, employee equal opportunity & diversity. Among these, increasing the energy efficiency of its facilities stands out as a key material issue for GM.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups GM engages with:   

Stakeholder Group
Customers
Dealers and dealer councils
Employees
Investors and analysts
Suppliers
Communities
Governments
Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs)

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics GM carried out two online surveys, among employees and external stakeholders. The surveys were completed by 1,052 GM employees and 367 external stakeholders.

What actions were taken by GM to increase the energy efficiency of its facilities?

In its 2017 Sustainability Report GM reports that it took the following actions for increasing the energy efficiency of its facilities:

  • Using ENERGY STAR initiatives to reduce energy intensity
  • GM uses various ENERGY STAR initiatives to chart its progress in operating more efficiently. ENERGY STAR’s Building Portfolio Manager (BPM) allows GM to benchmark its progress and make continuous improvements, by sending an automated monthly analysis of building scores to evaluate building performance regarding energy efficiency. In 2017, GM earned ENERGY STAR certification for 17 buildings and three assembly plants, including its Fairfax, Kansas, plant for the first time. This achievement came by adopting a new paint process that uses 40 per cent less energy per vehicle, automatically shutting down equipment that is not used, and by replacing existing lights with LEDs. In addition, GM enrolled all its global manufacturing facilities in the ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry, which calls for industrial sites to reduce energy intensity by 10 per cent in five years. A total of 133 GM facilities met this challenge in 2017, more than any other participating company.
  • Organising energy treasure hunts
  • An important way GM spots energy-saving opportunities is through “energy treasure hunts,” relying on the insight of those who know its operations best: manufacturing employees. During energy treasure hunts, a team of participants systematically visits various areas of a facility during periods of operation and shutdown, and then proposes possible areas for improvement. In 2017, GM organised 10 treasure hunts in India, Korea, North America and Thailand. During the treasure hunt at GM’s Bupyeong facility in Korea, the team focused on ways to improve the paint process and use of compressed air, identifying 41 opportunities for improvement. Of these recommendations, 27 were implemented, leading to US$5 million in annual savings.
  • Collaborating with university students and EDF fellows
  • GM also identifies energy saving opportunities by working with university students and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)’s Climate Corps. In 2017, a team of two EDF fellows spotted energy-saving opportunities at a new replacement paint shop that led to $383,000 in annual savings. These opportunities included installing motion-sensing light switches in areas with low foot traffic, creating a checklist for operators to follow at the end of shifts and putting equipment into maintenance mode, which uses less power when not in use.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 302-1 Energy consumption within the organization

2) Disclosure 302-3 Energy intensity

3) Disclosure 302-4 Reduction of energy consumption

 

Disclosure 302-1 Energy consumption within the organization corresponds to:

Disclosure 302-3 Energy intensity corresponds to:

Disclosure 302-4 Reduction of energy consumption corresponds to:

 

80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.



FBRH GRI Standards Certified and IEMA approved Sustainability Course | Venue: London LSE

By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI-Standards Certified and IEMA approved Course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by General Motors, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to General Motors: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.

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