< Back to Blog Listings

Experts from NGOs and Automotive Companies Share Their Expertise at Water Management Event

CNC_Milling-blog.jpgMost of the members of AIAG’s Greenhouse Gas Work Group manage supply chain water reporting and reduction in addition to their GHG responsibilities, so collaboration on an event to increase suppliers’ awareness of water management issues and to help support their efforts to use the CDP Water Supply Chain for water reporting was a logical first step.

The live and online seminar, held at AIAG headquarters and via WebEx on Wednesday, May 4, featured seven presentations from experts from automotive industry companies as well as NGOs. A recording of the event will be available online soon.

Here are some highlights:

  • The Importance of Water to the Automotive Industry. Sherry Mueller, environmental business analyst for Ford Motor Company, and Al Hildreth, global energy manager for General Motors Company, noted that recognizing sustainable water resources is a vital local responsibility, and understanding the true cost of water is key. Stressing the growing scarcity of global access to clean, fresh water, the pair described several readily available water tools and practices to help evaluate usage within facilities as well as over the life cycle of a product.
  • How to Begin a Responsible Water Management Program. Norton Fogel, senior project manager at Tetra Tech, led a session on identifying and tackling some of the intricacies of stewardship programs. He showed real-world applications of water-use analysis, water and cost saving measures, and the implementation of various processes including the Treasure Hunt — a way to organize teams to solve problems and eliminate waste by creating a culture of ownership and conservation.
  • Reporting Water Management to Your Customer. Dexter Galvin, head of CDP Supply Chain, explained the benefits as well as the ease of reporting via the CDP Water Supply Chain program that customers use to inquire about water management, risks, and opportunities. Companies are increasingly highlighting the opportunities to gain a competitive edge by engaging suppliers on the topic of water, and the CDP’s program is designed to help suppliers tackle sustainability challenges such as climate change and water risk, position themselves as better business partners, and build and improve their strategies year over year.
  • Water Reuse Specification in Extreme Water Stress. Production of motor vehicles relies on systems that demand a lot of water, including painting, welding, and air conditioning the production plant, and there is increasing expectation that companies will track and report global water demand. Laura Kelly, environmental specialist for ARCADIS U.S., provided examples of internal reuse and water balance practices, and explained the importance of engaging across all facets of an operation, especially when a site is under extreme water stress. Modern approaches require a plan to reuse water as well as focus on cooling and heating, production processes, auxiliary processes, indoor domestic use, and landscape irrigation.
  • Key Water Risks in Automotive Business. Water affects financial, operational, product, reputation, and compliance aspects of society and businesses and requires risk assessment and mitigation plans. Maurie Carr, vice president of partnerships and development for the Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF), highlighted two key areas of concern: operational risks and reputational risks. Carr shared tools, resources, and best practices to help companies assess and address these vital liabilities, and noted the need for cross-functional collaboration on water risk.
  • Water Benchmarking and Best Practices. Todd Williams, senior project engineer at General Motors Company, shared the findings from AIAG’s Benchmarking and Analysis Work Group's study on benchmarking water use among six OEMs. The study identified 135 aspects to benchmark automotive OEMs' water management, including metrics, conduct, regulation, processes, sustainability, and best practices. Williams showed the applications of the benchmarks, as well as best practices and specific steps companies can take to begin addressing the issue.

A recording of the event should be available for download by the end of the May.

Currently, says Lecedra Welch, program manager, environmental sustainability, the Water Benchmarking Work Group is OEM-only. Plans include expansion of the work group to include suppliers. In addition to water benchmarking, the group will also focus on best practices, risk assessment, and continuous improvement.

If you are interesting in joining the work group to take part in these initiatives, please contact Lecedra Welch at cr@aiag.org.

Thomas Marcetti is an associate editor for AIAG’s newsletters.