SMYRNA, Tenn. — Nissan North America’s effort to save energy in its milelong Smyrna plant is evident in the dimmed lights, conservation reminder signs and ingenious battery-powered music systems made by workers.
“We’re trying to conserve energy,” Nissan spokesman Steve Parrett said this week, pointing to switched off overhead plant lights.
The lines in production remain brightly lit, concentrated by lighting near the work area rather than from high ceilings. Lights on snack and soft drink machines also are off.
Even the work crews have found alternative ways to power their music.
Craig Baker, a welder placing weld nuts on the support system of a dashboard, listened to “Rock and Roll Fantasy” this week on a roll-around, washing machine-sized, self-contained stereo system powered by a car battery. Mounted inside the plywood box, painted patriotically with stars and strips and adorned with a verse from Psalms, was a car stereo and large speakers.
Conserving energy is not new at Nissan’s Smyrna plant.
Larry Burks, Smyrna’s plant manager and director of paint, said the Nissan Senior Vice President Bill Krueger in 2006 asked company leaders and workers in the automaker’s Smyrna, Dechard, Tenn., and Canton, Miss., plants to find ways to reduce energy use. The initial first year effort resulted in a 30 percent reduction.
Emboldened, company leaders decided to reduce energy consumption by a total of 41 percent from 2006 to 2010.
The savings, Mr. Burks said, will be the same amount of energy needed to manufacture 1 million cars.
“It is pretty phenomenal,” he said. “We’re doing it to be more competitive. And it’s also good for the environment. It reduces our carbon footprint.”
For the effort, Nissan in 2006 and this year received national EPA Energy Star awards.
Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...