Our Management
Approach to


Key Takeaways
  • GM’s Environmental Principles and environmental management system are the foundation for optimizing the environmental footprint of our operations.
  • Since 2010, we have been measuring our progress against a set of 2020 manufacturing commitments, having achieved five to date.
  • We measure and manage resource use across our value chain to drive business efficiencies and conserve natural resources.
  • While our facilities vary widely in function and size, our resource management strategy is applied on a consistent basis.

We currently maintain nearly 300 facilities, including more than 150 manufacturing plants around the world. No two facilities are alike. There is a great range among them in terms of size, function, processes and local environment. All GM-owned and -operated facilities have their own operating plans, but function under a common set of Environmental Principles, which provide an effective foundation for environmental stewardship and support our efforts to build the most valued automotive company.

Environmental Governance

GM has a robust process to enhance the integration of environmental sustainability practices into daily business decisions and to (1) comply with applicable environmental laws and regulations; (2) monitor GM’s performance according to GM’s own Environmental Performance Criteria (EPC), which are universal performance requirements designed to protect human health and the environment in accordance with the GM Environmental Principles and set baseline standards; and (3) conform to other key performance indicators, such as landfill-free sites.

Each GM manufacturing site has one or more environmental engineers, who are supported by a GM regional environmental team. Our Global Manufacturing organization oversees and manages these teams. We also have an annual business planning process, known as Business Plan Deployment (BPD), to strengthen the management of environmental performance (e.g., linking more Global Manufacturing employees to GM’s performance against our 2020 operational commitments). Furthermore, throughout our manufacturing organization, annual compensation is based on performance to the BPD, which includes environmental metrics.

A 580 kilowatt solar array was recently added to the roof of our Baltimore Operation’s e-Motor building, where electric motors and drive units for the Chevrolet Spark EV are built. This new array is made up of approximately 2,420 panels and covers 87 percent of the e-Motor building’s roof.

Environmental Principles

As a responsible corporate citizen, GM is dedicated to protecting human health, natural resources and the global environment. This dedication reaches further than compliance with the law to encompass the integration of sound environmental practices into our business decisions. The following Environmental Principles provide guidance to GM personnel in the conduct of their daily business practices:

GM employees are committed to preserving and protecting the environment.

  • We are committed to actions to restore and preserve the environment.
  • We are committed to reducing waste and pollutants, conserving resources and recycling materials at every stage of the product life cycle.
  • We will continue to participate actively in educating the public regarding environmental conservation.
  • We will continue to pursue vigorously the development and implementation of technologies for minimizing pollutant emissions.
  • We will continue to work with governmental entities for the development of technically sound and financially responsible environmental laws and regulations.
  • We will continue to assess the impact of our plants and products on the environment and the communities in which we live and operate, with the goal of continuous improvement.

Environmental Policy

We believe our past achievements in the area of environmental stewardship are the result of a combination of Environmental Principles and Performance Criteria and local policies. With our Environmental Principles as a foundation, this combination provides a framework for our manufacturing and nonmanufacturing facilities and major technology centers around the world to implement global policy, consistent and complementary local policies and the EPC. This approach helps us to strive for operational compliance across all sites at all times and to embed a philosophy of continuous improvement into each facility’s environmental management system.

We’re finding ways to build vehicles that require less energy, water and waste.

These plant-specific actions play a significant role in our overall environmental compliance, ensuring that local plant policies:

  • Are appropriate to the nature, scale and environmental impacts of its activities, products or services.
  • Reinforce a commitment to comply with applicable laws and regulations and with other relevant environmental requirements.
  • Include a commitment to continuous improvement and pollution prevention.
  • Provide the framework for setting and reviewing environmental objectives and targets.
  • Are documented, implemented, maintained and communicated to all employees.

Statutory, regulatory and permit programs administered by various governmental agencies impose numerous environmental requirements on our facilities and products, and compliance with these requirements is an organizational imperative. Compliance issues occasionally arise, and each allegation of noncompliance is treated seriously by GM. In 2017, GM received 33 Notices of Violation (NOVs), 25 in the U.S. and 8 outside the U.S. GM took actions to resolve these NOVs. GM did not pay any penalties or fines equal to or in excess of $10,000 USD.

Environmental Management System

All the manufacturing facilities that GM owns and operates, and a number of our nonmanufacturing sites around the world, have implemented an Environmental Management System (EMS). This system combines elements of the environmental management standard International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 and elements that are specific to our operations. GM’s Environmental Management Systems Specifications are designed to drive a continuous performance improvement cycle in line with legal requirements, site-specific objectives and targets, and corporate and regional policies and strategies.

GM has developed a robust internal process to self-declare conformance to ISO 14001. Our U.S. and Mexican operations use this process to self-declare conformance to the ISO EMS standard.

GM operations in other regions currently utilize third-party accredited registrars to certify conformance to ISO. New manufacturing operations must develop and implement EMS within 24 months of the start of production or the date of acquisition. Our operations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico have integrated their EMS within the GM Global Manufacturing System and Business Plan Deployment process, resulting in an EMS with attributes beyond those specified in ISO 14001.

By maintaining a common EMS, we can measure our environmental performance and share knowledge, processes and technologies within GM to plan and measure improvements across all our manufacturing facilities. Our environmental management practices have helped us improve our environmental performance.

Environmental Performance

Implementation of our Environmental Principles is facilitated by EPC that apply to our global manufacturing facilities and major technology centers. We are expanding EPC application to our nonmanufacturing facilities and are working toward implementation of this by the end of 2018. The EPC are internal performance requirements for the management of environmental issues at our facilities. In many cases, they also supplement applicable legal requirements by setting minimum standards for environmental management and performance practices that may be more stringent than those required by law. As a result, we work to ensure that a base level of environmental performance is achieved, regardless of where a facility is located or whether a particular jurisdiction has an environmental regulatory program in place. For example, the EPC establish a global baseline standard for all new assembly operations with regard to paint shop emissions and associated minimum technology requirements, regardless of whether the country in which the paint shop is operated has adopted specific air emissions requirements. Where laws are more stringent than our EPCs, the law controls.

Training employees in environmental stewardship, ranging from preventive actions to regulatory requirements, is critical to our performance.

Employee Training

Our people are key stakeholders in our environmental stewardship and are critical to our environmental performance. We strive to have the best-trained environmental professionals in the world. Although most environmental training is specific to a facility, country or region, we continually provide strategic training and guidance to our environmental professionals to help them keep pace with evolving environmental issues and best practices that could have application worldwide. Our training addresses a variety of issues, including, but not limited to, implementation of corrective and preventive actions, effective use of safety data sheets, management of greenhouse gases and regulatory requirements for air, waste and water.

In the U.S., we have set a goal for all our facilities’ environmental professionals to become Certified Hazardous Materials Managers (CHMM®). The certification requires a relevant degree and three years of appropriate experience or 11 years of experience without a degree, and the successful completion of an Institute of Hazardous Materials Management® exam. In order to maintain certification, at least 20 hours of technical environmental training is required annually. In Canada, new environmental professionals receive at least 40 hours of training initially, followed by regular refresher training. In addition, some Canadian environmental professionals receive specialized training as certified toxic substance reduction planners. Outside North America, we have developed a Global Environmental Certification and Training Program focused on GM Environmental Principles, our internal environmental performance criteria and industry best practices.

Sixty-eight GM sites achieved Wildlife Habitat Council Conservation certification.

Operational Impact Strategy

As we work toward our aspiration of having a positive environmental impact across our value chain, we focus a tremendous amount of effort toward improving the efficiency of manufacturing processes used to produce our vehicles. Our efforts pay significant dividends: Sound resource management helps drive manufacturing excellence and significant cost savings while reducing various risks—all of which helps us offer customers better vehicles at more affordable prices. Today, GM is proud to be an industrial leader in energy efficiency, as well as emissions, water and waste reduction.

We measure and manage resource use at all manufacturing locations, engineering centers, parts distribution centers and proving ground sites around the world. These facilities vary in function, size and surrounding natural environments, which gives rise to varying concerns such as water scarcity or air quality. Our strategy across these facilities, however, has common attributes:

  • It’s holistic, in that we approach resource conservation from a systems perspective to develop optimal strategies.
  • It’s heavily reliant on innovation, using as much creativity and out-of-the-box thinking in our conservation efforts as we do in innovating new vehicle technologies. In fact, we often cross functions, such as manufacturing and vehicle development, as we work to realize new resource efficiencies.
  • It’s a collaborative process that reflects a manufacturing culture steeped in the sharing of best practices, particularly behavior. We often collaborate with other businesses and organizations to address tough challenges and engage local communities and schools on environmental stewardship.
  • It’s incentivized by linking the annual environmental performance of our facilities and our 2020 operational commitments to the compensation of a cross-section of global manufacturing employees and plant-level management. In addition, employees in the U.S. who offer energy, waste and water conservation ideas that are implemented are eligible to receive a portion of the savings up to US$20,000.
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