4 ways Cummins’ 2020 goals are helping the environment
Skeptical when companies announce goals for reducing their environmental impact? Cummins’ 2020 goals, announced in 2014, have driven positive changes both for the company and the environment.
Cummins announced new environmental sustainability goals Nov. 15 to guide the company through 2030. They will have a big impact if the company’s 2020 goals are any indication. Here’s a quick look back:
1. RENEWABLE ENERGY
Significant strides have been made since the company announced its 2020 goal to increase its use and promotion of low-carbon, renewable energy sources.
The Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Company (BFCEC) in Beijing, China, is the largest of Cummins’ 12 completed solar installations, producing about 15% of the energy consumed at one of its two buildings. Work will soon begin on a new array of about equal size at the site’s second building.
The Beijing plant is one of 16 Cummins locations where work is taking place on new solar installations – 12 in India, alone. Arrays are planned at another nine sites including Cummins facilities in Nigeria, Romania and Australia.
Not every site at Cummins is a good fit for solar, however. The company’s work to help an Indiana wind farm expand could prove to be a great alternative to promote low-carbon, renewable energy.
Cummins entered into a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement to help the Meadow Lake Wind Farm expand in 2018. While the power doesn’t go directly to a Cummins facility, the company’s share of the expansion will send slightly more renewable electricity to the grid than the company uses at its Indiana facilities.
That amounts to offsetting about 28% of Cummins’ global energy consumption annually with renewable power, almost 10 times the electricity generated by the company’s solar arrays.
2. IMPROVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Cummins is on pace to achieve a 32% energy intensity reduction, energy use adjusted by hours worked, compared to a baseline year of 2010.
The company has been making efficiency improvements at many facilities - upgrading lighting, heating and air conditioning systems - and replacing inefficient equipment discovered by employees trained as Environmental Champions.
One of the company’s most impactful investments: regenerative dynamometers or “regen dynos” for short. The technology captures energy generated by test engines and turns it into useful power. Cummins uses a lot of fuel when it tests new engines and components.
The Cummins Technical Center in Columbus, Indiana, gets about 23% of the total electricity it uses from regen dynos, said Mark Dhennin, Director – Energy & Environment. At the Seymour (Indiana) Engine Plant, where Cummins builds some of its largest engines, two dynos are providing about 17% of the site’s electricity, Dhennin said.
3. CONSERVING WATER
Since 2010, direct water use is down 16% at Cummins despite a significant increase in employees and buildings. Water use intensity, direct water use adjusted by hours worked, has been reduced by 50%.
The company has undertaken projects ranging from repairing leaks and improving water use practices to using heating and cooling systems that recirculate water rather than dispose it. The regen dynos mentioned earlier reduce cooling load, which allows the cooling tower systems used with test engines to be smaller and use less water.
There are also many building specific features across Cummins to conserve water. Some facilities are focusing on upgrades to reuse wastewater. The company’s Rocky Mount Engine Plant in Rocky Mount, N.C., for example, initiated a project to reclaim 15 million gallons of water per year for use in a cooling tower at the plant.
A similar project is being conducted at Cummins’ Jamestown Engine Plant in Jamestown, N.Y. The potential savings of 15 million gallons per year there will be reused in the facility’s cooling towers and deionized water system.
There are many smaller efforts ranging from the bioswales at the Distribution Business Headquarters in Indianapolis, which keep about 80% of rainwater on site for landscaping, to plants in India and Brazil that recycle water for non-potable uses.
4. WORKING WITH CUSTOMERS TO REDUCE CO2
Cummins fuel economy teams across the world have implemented nearly 300 projects since 2014 to improve the efficiency of the company’s products in use.
In 2018, Cummins surpassed its 2020 goal of working with customers to achieve an annual run rate reduction of 3.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), reaching 4.3 million metric tons of CO2 in 2018. CO2 is a key contributor to greenhouse gas.
Projects included retrofitting buses with stop-start technology, so the engine shuts down when stopped on a route; creating a way to easily shift a truck engine to a fuel efficiency setting and ensuring a customer uses the right-sized engine for a job so fuel isn’t wasted.
Cummins expects to work with about 20% of its customer base by the end of 2020, touching nearly 2 million engines as specifications are tailored to specific customer uses.
Editor's note: This story was updated Nov. 18, 2019 to reflect the announcement of Cummins' new environmental strategy goals.