Going green, every day
General Motors Vice President for Sustainability and Global Regulatory Affairs Mike Robinson commanded the attention of those attending the University of Saint Francis' 19th annual CEO Forum, "The Future of Sustainability: Impact on Efficiency, Innovation and Profit," sponsored by the Keith Busse School of Business and Environmental Leadership in the North Campus auditorium this month.
GM has positioned itself at the forefront of manufacturers in terms of sustainability, and Robinson described the many ways in which GM constantly employs recycling to produce no-landfill production facilities. But GM hasn't limited itself to recycling its own waste—the company even used waste from the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill to clean up the Gulf Coast while producing parts for some of its automobiles.
Robinson described the company's purchase of 227 miles of oil-soaked booms from the Gulf Coast clean-up, diverting them from landfills. After extracting the oil, the company converted the by-product into virgin resin for auto parts. "And on a cost-neutral basis, those air deflectors end up under the hood of the Chevy Volt," he said.
He cited statistics showing the company has used the adage "reduce—reuse—recycle" to save money and protect the environment, within a few miles of the auditorium in which he spoke. The Allen County GM plant sends no waste to landfills and uses 28 percent less energy than a few years ago, he said. The plant also derives 21 percent of its energy from landfill gas, making it the second-largest user of landfill gas in the country.
Adding layers to the examination of the sustainability in business subject was a panel of CEOs from businesses noted for sustainability efforts. Dr. Joe Steensma, USF biology graduate and professor in the school of business, moderated. Steensma launched Industrial Solutions Group in 1999, growing it into one of the most well-known and respected environmental health and risk management companies in the United States in his 10 years as owner-manager.
Paul Chodak III, President and Chief Operating Officer for Indiana Michigan Power (IMP), an operating company of American Electric Power headquartered in Fort Wayne, Ind., discussed how consumer conservation efforts can lead to cost savings and reduce environmental impact.
Tom Horter, President and CEO for Bluffton, Ind.-based Alexin LLC, discussed his company's recycling of scrap aluminum to serve the distribution, machinery, military, medical, electrical, RV/MH and consumer durables markets, as well as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building and construction markets.
Tom Huntington, CEO for WaterFurnace International Inc., a Fort Wayne-based manufacturer and distributor of environmentally friendly and efficient heating and cooling systems that use the heat stored in ground water, discussed his company's generation of its own energy through ponds like that at the Fort Wayne facility.
Dave Mathis, Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing for Kansas-based Golden Heritage Foods LLC, a honey producer, spoke of the dedication to excellence required to attain True Source Certification to assure a product is legally and ethically sourced rather than imported from foreign markets.
A partner in the legal firm of Barrett & McNagny in Fort Wayne, environmental attorney Dave Steiner discussed environmental compliance for businesses and individuals and how those measures contribute to the establishment of environmentally friendly businesses and sites.
"The University of Saint Francis understands the importance of sustainability," said Keith Busse School of Business Dean Helen J. Murray. "We hope our CEO Forum has cultivated a deeper awareness and understanding of sustainability and how it can be implemented in any size organization."
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