Mercedes-Benz Greens Up Vance, Alabama Plant

Kharl Prado January 1, 2011

Mercedes-Benz is making sure that the green attitude doesn’t stop with their various BlueEFFICIENCY products. The automaker is also improving its production facilities by making them greener and reducing their carbon footprint, and the latest plant to get the environment-friendly update is the one in Vance, Alabama.

One of the newest furnishings in the plant includes roof-mounted solar panels for the Visitor Center as well as the Bill Taylor Institute, and the system should be operational soon. The energy from the panels are used for heating the water in the building. In addition to being a green measure, the Mercedes Benz US International facility engineering department says they hope to save some money thanks to this new feature.

Instead of conventionally heating water via flame generated by natural gas power or through electricity, water heating will rely on the heat that is generated by the solar panels on the roof. Only when the solar panels can’t provide adequate heating—such as during the night or on cloudy or rainy days—will the natural gas flame kick in. In this way, the facility’s heating system act like hybrid powertrains where power is provided by an electric battery before the petrol engine kicks in once the battery expends its charge.

In addition to these solar panels, there will also be some wind- and solar-powered collectors that will be mounted on two light poles at the entrance of Plant 1. The energy from these collectors are going to charge the batteries located at the poles’ bases, and these batteries will then power the hybrid LED road lights on the poles. It is said that a single battery charge is good for three nights’ worth of lighting.

“Both projects are production trials in a way,” said Phill Onstott, assistant manager of the department. “They are our way of checking out various energy-efficiency technologies as we consider options that may be useful for the rest of our operations.”

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