While Henry Ford never used the word “sustainability,” the founder of Ford Motor Company believed in its ethos.
Abhorring waste of any kind, he strived to attain self-sufficiency in manufacturing. He even pioneered experimenting with renewable materials such as soybeans — which the company uses as foam in all of its North American vehicles.
“Throughout the years, Ford has adapted to incorporate sustainability across its business globally,” said Kim Pittel, vice president of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering at Ford, discussing a recent GreenBiz webinar sponsored by the American automaker.
This includes implementing processes that reduce carbon emissions, waste, water and energy use in facilities, incorporating recycled and renewable materials into its products and social responsibility in the supply chain.
The shift in corporate strategy is indicative of a much wider recalibration happening in the world of automotive manufacturing.
General Motors and Mercedes-Benz are both betting big on shared rides and shared cars, investing in or acquiring high profile startups in the space. Volkswagen, meanwhile, is still attempting to recover from its notorious emissions cheating scandal.
In response to evolving sustainbility challenges, Ford also recently decided change gears and redefine its focus, describing itself in marketing materials as an auto and mobility company.
“Ford is focused on using technology to find mobility solutions today to help make the world better for tomorrow,” said Pittel. “The company’s evolution is driving innovation in every part of its business as it focuses on how to best navigate global issues such as climate change, supply chain sustainability and human rights.”
A three-pronged approach to sustainability
Ford takes a three-pronged, integrated approach to sustainability, which spans social, environmental and economic components — an increasingly common corporate strategy as the disparate impacts of climate and environmental issues become more well established in the mainstream business world.
Dubbed “Going Further — The Right Way,” Ford’s sustainability strategy sets and works toward stretch targets to embrace opportunities that may arise from pressure to cut emissions or curb waste in the manufacturing process.
With vehicle manufacturing, for example, Ford has doubled down on ethical materials sourcing and sustainable materials development, along with zero-waste initiatives and closed-loop manufacturing. Likewise, the company recently announced a $4.5 billion investment in its electrification program, expected to result in 13 new electric vehicles to our lineup by 2020.
Auto sustainability beyond EVs
One result of Ford’s investment in corporate responsibility is Project Better World, a program that provides vehicles and services that meet the mobility needs of underserved communities. The initiative focuses on helping to bring access to medical care and supplies in rural Africa, as well as mapping remote areas and providing internet and connectivity in areas not currently covered.
“Project Better World is pilot program in South Africa and Nigeria, which unites multiple organizations to deliver goods and services to underserved communities using enhanced mobility and connectivity innovations,” said Pittel.
In South Africa, for example, specially equipped Ford Rangers will deliver health education, medicine and nutrition for 20,000 children and 10,000 adults.
Through its Nigerian partner, Riders for Health, donated funds and Ford Rangers will help train technicians to maintain vehicles to ensure medical professionals and supplies reach people in rural areas.
“Ensuring access to medical help is a key component of Ford’s vision for a sustainable future, moving beyond the environmental aspect of sustainability and fully incorporating social good as a pivotal value,” said Pittel.
Ford has installed a Ford OpenXC software analytics device in each Ford Ranger, which are referred to as flexible response vehicles, to collect location information, fuel economy, vehicle performance metrics and other important data that will be stored in Ford servers and shared with partners that leverage the vehicle’s services.
“We look forward to testing out new ways to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the vehicle and the services it provides through apps and algorithms currently in development,” said Pittel.
The key performance indicators for Project Better World differ for each pilot. Priorities for future project endeavors include monitoring and evaluation, bandwidth and connectivity, cold chains, reciprocal value and remote data collection.
The buzzword in home construction today is “sustainability” – building homes that integrate with the landscape, are energy efficient and use renewable materials. And an eco-friendly home doesn’t mean sacrificing luxury or design. Whether you’re buying new construction or renovating an older home for greater efficiency, there are a few terms and concepts you should know about.
Insulation: Walls, ceilings, basements and attics are places where your home can lose energy. Options for a well-insulated house can range from specially insulated exterior walls to blown-in cellulose, from energy-reflecting cool roof systems to roof and interior attic foam insulation. Many states offer rebates or low- or no-interest loans to help you save energy and reduce heating and cooling bills. Start by calling your local utility company and asking about any programs they offer. A well-insulated house can take advantage of environmental factors to keep the temperature constant and comfortable.
Windows: Since windows are mostly glass, substantial savings in heating and cooling can come from improved glass performance. Highly efficient replacement windows can save you hundreds of dollars, but they can be very expensive. If you live in a hot climate and are interested in keeping the heat out of your home, a less expensive option may be to apply low-E film to your windows. Low-E film enhances the window’s ability to reflect heat, rather than absorb it. You can apply these films yourself or hire a contractor to handle a more complicated application. Finally, window shades are a low-tech and inexpensive way to control temperature in the home.
Solar: Passive solar depends on how your house is sited and landscaped, and how architectural features work to collect, store and distribute heat in the winter and reject heat in the summer. When passive solar features are included in the building design, they add little or no cost and can result in thousands of dollars in energy savings over the life of your home. Solar heating usually refers to technologies that collect and store energy from the sun, often using photovoltaic (battery) systems. Solar power systems can be used to generate electricity or heat water. Again, there may be local or state programs that offer incentives to buy or rent home solar energy systems.
Low (or Zero) VOC: VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, which are chemicals found in paints and flooring that can vaporize and emit gases for long periods of time. Eco-friendly paints that are low VOC emit smaller amounts of these gases and are usually odor free. Low VOC carpeting is made by many manufacturers and is attractive and comfortable.
Low-Flow Water Fixtures: Low-flow faucets, shower heads and toilets use less water per minute than traditional fixtures and conserve water by adding air into the system to produce a strong flow while using less water. Installing these devices requires an investment, but you will likely earn back your expenditure in the first year. Again, many city governments or utilities offer incentives to install these energy-saving fixtures in your older home.
Focusing on sustainable design and materials means you can make your house more comfortable and less expensive to maintain while minimizing your impact on natural resources and respecting the environment.
If you’re in the market for an energy-efficient home, one of the best places to start is with intelligent home automation. That’s one of the outstanding features of the Ecological House 3.0, a smart bioclimatic prefab home that can be controlled from a smartphone to achieve maximum energy efficiency. Designed by architecture firm NOEM, the fully plugged-in wooden dwelling was completed in just 10 weeks in Castellón, Spain.
The 1,033-square-foot Ecological House 3.0 boasts a modern design with rounded edges to match its innovative, 100% digital design, manufacturing, and home automation. Thanks to the digitization process, NOEM was able to send their designs directly to the cutting machines and complete prefabrication in just eight weeks. The ecologically sensitive house was also designed with passive technologies and makes use of local renewable materials. The home’s energy consumption and production, water consumption, temperature, humidity, and other relevant data can be accessed in real time via smartphone.
From the light switches to the irrigation, the modular dwelling’s systems are all automated, programmable, and hooked up to wireless Internet. The irrigation system, for example, adapts and adjusts depending on updated soil moisture and rain forecast data, and high levels of CO2 will trigger the mechanical ventilation system. The lighting system can be programmed and scheduled, or turn on via GPS or detectors.
The Ecological House 3.0 comprises two wooden modules, the larger of which contains a light-filled living room, dining room, and kitchen space that overlooks a large south-facing porch and awning through a high-performance glass wall. The second module comprises the double bedroom, bathroom, and study. The wooden envelopes are made from solid structural panels of laminated wood and are insulated with 16mm wood fiber panels.