Did you know that BMW’s commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability projects began well before development of hybrid and fully electric powertrains? In addition to these more recently produced hybrid and electric vehicles, they’ve been researching and producing alternative fuel-powered vehicles (hydrogen) since the 1970s. If not developing new ways to recycle batteries, they reclaim them for in-house equipment. We’ve also seen elevated uses of sustainable materials in manufacturing. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg as there have been solar panel projects, a hydrogen fuel cell fleet, and more.

Solar energy fully powers the 24,000 square foot Zentrum Museum and three new electric vehicle charging stations.

Sustainability doesn’t stop with producing clean-running vehicles as BMW has also developed cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient ways to power their manufacturing facilities. For two decades, Plant Spartanburg, located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, has been using recycled methane gas from a local landfill to provide electricity and hot water. Per BMW, “more than 9,200 tons of CO2 emissions have been reduced each year, which is equivalent to eliminating CO2 emissions from vehicles driving 23.5 million miles every year.” This supplies about twenty percent of the plant’s total energy.

To make this idea a reality, in the early 2000s BMW partnered with a company named Ameresco, who designed and built the gas processing facilities and pipeline from the Palmetto Landfill to Plant Spartanburg. Due to twenty years of success, this partnership will be extended an additional eight years.

The Zentrum Museum and Plant Spartanburg behind it.

BMW explains, “Instead of ‘flaring’ or burning off the methane gas, the BMW project captures the methane produced at the landfill using dozens of gas extraction wells. The gas is then treated to remove moisture and impurities and is compressed at the landfill’s Recovery and Compression Station. The methane then travels through a 9.5-mile pipeline from the landfill to Plant Spartanburg.”

So, if you happen to stop by Plant Spartanburg for a plant tour during next month’s Vintage festivities, flex some knowledge and ask to learn more about this and other sustainability projects going on in our own backyard. —Mike Bevels

[Photos by BMW.]



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