Wednesday, August 27, 2014 · 9:03 a.m.
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Volkswagen Chattanooga CEO Frank Fischer outlined the company's environmental goals Wednesday morning. (Photo: Staff)

Wednesday's celebration of Volkswagen's solar farm represents a larger commitment to environmental conservation, leaders said. 

"The solar park is another proof point of Volkswagen's worldwide commitment to environmental protection under its 'Think Blue Factory' philosophy, a broadly focused initiative for all Volkswagen plants to achieve more efficient use of energy, materials and water and produce less waste and emissions," Frank Fischer, CEO and chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations LLC, said. 

Fast facts

—Volkswagen exceeded its 2012 production target, which was 145,000 vehicles. The local plant actually produced 152,546 cars. 

—The Passat TDI SE gets 43 miles per gallon on the highway and 31 mpg in the city. 

—Low-flow water fixtures and no-touch sensors throughout the plant reduce water usage by 30 percent.

—LED lighting results in 68 percent less energy used.

Volkswagen leaders want their company to be the world's largest and most environmentally friendly automaker by 2018. 

This means increasing market share and decreasing environmental impact.

Company leaders aim to build each new generation model to be 10 to 15 percent more efficient. They want to make vehicle production 15 percent more environmentally compatible and reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2015.

The company already offers seven cars that get more than 40 miles per gallon.

In two years, leaders project they will have invested more than $44 billion around the world in the development of alternative powertrains and plants.

VW leaders said that 100 of the brand's plants are currently being environmentally optimized. 

Volkswagen Chattanooga has achieved LEED Platinum Certification—the nation's top green building standard. It is the first U.S. auto manufacturer in the world to do so.

The company is also investing more than $850 million in renewable energy, officials said. 

Volkswagen's solar park is the largest in the state of Tennessee. (Photo: Staff)

Chattanooga's plant is a role model for other facilities, Fischer said. The plant uses energy-saving production technology. 

For example, the paint shop at the plant will save 50 million gallons of water in 10 years, according to Nooga.com archives

The $30 million solar farm can generate 12.5 percent of the energy for the plant during production times and 100 percent during nonproduction, officials said at the dedication ceremony.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger (left) and Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield praised VW's new solar park. (Photo: Staff)

The solar panels are located on 33 acres adjacent to the VW plant. 

The solar farm is made up of 33,600 solar modules from JA Solardesigned to produce 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity per year.

That is equivalent to the energy used every year by about 1,200 homes in the area.

Phoenix Solar supplies and installs solar panels, and Silicon Ranch owns and manages solar field and sells power to VW. Both companies had representatives at Wednesday's event. 

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield also attended the event, praising Volkswagen's environmental efforts. 

Littlefield said that the city of Chattanooga has gone from an old industrial city full of smokestacks to a renewed, environmentally progressive town, and Volkswagen is part of that. 

Coppinger said what VW is doing makes good business sense and good common sense. 

"[Volkswagen] always far exceeds what the expectations are," Coppinger said, noting that the company has brought more jobs than initially promised and referencing its environmentally friendly standards. 

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