2021 ALL STAR | SUSTAINABILITY
Executive vice president of global manufacturing and sustainability, General Motors
For Gerald Johnson, GM’s executive vice president of global manufacturing and sustainability, climate action is a priority as GM converts plants for electric vehicle manufacturing.
The company has focused on using the manufacturing assets it now has.
When renovating Factory Zero in Detroit, GM’s first all-EV plant, the automaker repurposed 80 percent of the plant’s infrastructure and equipment, Johnson said. The GMC Hummer EV, slated to launch by the end of the year, will be the first vehicle built at the retooled factory.
“We didn’t build walls,” Johnson, 59, said in October. “We didn’t have to create a shipping yard. We didn’t have to add utilities or building infrastructure. We already had them.”
GM said in 2019 it would invest $2.2 billion to prepare the factory for EV production. The investment is the largest in GM’s history, the automaker said. When the plant is fully operational, GM says it will create more than 2,200 manufacturing jobs at full production capacity.
During the plant’s retooling, GM has repurposed concrete waste to create temporary roadways and recycled stormwater to reduce discharge costs and offset the cost of potable water. GM will use the treated stormwater in cooling towers and fire suppression systems. The site includes a 16.5-acre wildlife habitat for species such as monarch butterflies, foxes and turkeys, GM said.
Factory Zero will be powered by renewable energy by 2023.
All of GM’s U.S. sites will be powered by renewable energy by 2025, GM said, five years earlier than planned and 25 years ahead of the initial target set in 2016. GM aims to avoid 1 million metric tons of carbon emissions that would have been produced between 2025 and 2030.
Johnson began overseeing GM’s sustainability efforts this year when Dane Parker retired. Kristen Siemen, chief sustainability officer, reports to Johnson.
GM aspires to eliminate tailpipe emissions from its light vehicles by 2035 and become carbon neutral in global products and operations by 2040.