Friday, October 24, 2014 · 12:53 p.m.
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VW Chattanooga's new solar park is the largest in the state. (Photo: Staff)

Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations LLC announced Tuesday that it now appears as No. 11 on the Environmental Protection Agency's Top 20. 

The list, which is compiled of on-site green power purchases, is in recognition of Volkswagen's on-site solar array, where more than 13 million kilowatt-hours of green power are generated annually. That is enough green power to meet 12 percent of the organization's electricity use

Volkswagen's solar park is the biggest solar installation at any U.S. auto factory. 

“This is a huge honor, and we are proud to be recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” Frank Fischer, CEO and chairman of Volkswagen Chattanooga, said in a prepared statement. “Using green power helps our organization to improve our environmental efficiency according to Volkswagen’s 'Think Blue' ... strategy and confirms our status as the only LEED Platinum Certified auto plant in the world.”

Green power is defined by electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, like wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, biomass and low-impact hydro. On-site green power is deployed directly to the nearby facilities rather than at central power plants. Green power electricity also generates less pollution than conventional power, and it produces no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions. 

“EPA is excited to welcome Volkswagen Chattanooga as a green power partner and applauds the organization’s impressive use of on-site solar power,” Blaine Collison, director of EPA’s Green Power Partnership, said in a prepared statement. “Volkswagen Chattanooga is helping to reduce harmful air pollution and demonstrating that using green power is smart for the environment and for business.”

The 13 million kilowatt-hours produced by Volkswagen's on-site solar park is equivalent to the avoidance of carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity use of more than 1,000 average American homes annually, according to the EPA. 

Volkswagen Group of America runs the first and only automotive plant that has been awarded LEED Platinum Certification by the U.S. Green Buildings Council. Its new paint shop saves the use of 20,000 gallons of water per day by using its dry scrubber technology, and its water-harvesting system provides about 6 million reused gallons of water annually for restrooms and cooling circuits in the body shop.

The plant is certified according to ISO 140001 for its environmental management system and according to ISO 50001 for its energy management system.

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