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How Ford is greening US one household at a time

Ford not only builds some of the most efficient automobiles on the planet, but is also demonstrating how the average household can lower emissions and conserve energy by greening the homes of winners in the MyEnergi Lifestyle Retrofit National Contest.
Posted: July 24, 2013 - 6:11PM
Author: Don Bain


“We launched the MyEnergi Lifestyle collaboration at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2013 to show how a typical American family can significantly reduce their electricity bills and CO2 footprint by integrating today’s smart home appliances, plug-in vehicles and solar energy,” said Ford’s Global Director of Vehicle Electrification, Mike Tinskey.

The program is based on readily available products, making the results seen by contest winners accessible to anyone with sufficient ways, means and motivation.

“Ford and its partners launched the contest to illustrate the benefits of MyEnergi Lifestyle in a real American family household,” added Tinskey.

The Prize Package
Each Winning household receives a 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi along with new Whirlpool brand appliances, SunPower solar system and other products designed to increase the energy-efficiency of their lifestyle.

The total makeover will accomplish significant reductions in the energy use and carbon footprint of the winning household.

The Winners
The most recent winners of the makeover package were Ben and Lindsay Sattler of Parker CO, pictured at right with their all-new 2013 C-MAX Energi. They are the second household to win the prize package.

The Sattlers were picked largely on the basis of an essay Lindsay penned about their passion for sustainability and efforts to live an energy-efficient lifestyle.

“We are always trying to find new ways we can use less energy and save more money to make life a little more enjoyable,” she wrote.

Sustainability classes
However, the fact that Ben Sattler teaches inner-city school classes on alternative fuels and home energy efficiency, probably was a factor as well. He encourages the students to reduce their carbon footprint with small and/or large lifestyle changes, while they become aware of and begin to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.

The school where Ben Sattler teaches his courses has a low graduation rate – inner city students are sometimes unaware of the opportunities life may provide if one is well prepared to act upon them.

Knowing this, Ben wanted to challenge his students with the problems the world faces, and inspire them with the career possibilities the new green industries are creating.

“The jobs available to people with just a high school diploma aren’t as available as they used to be, and demand for higher education is growing,” he replied by email to my queries. “I created this class because I am passionate about the environment, and because there are growing opportunities in the field of environmental science and technology. I get to teach my students about caring for the environment, sustainable technologies, and the college and career opportunities associated with them.”

He teaches students in the 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th grades in subjects ranging from environmental conservation and sustainable energy sources to vehicles using alternative fuels.

For many of these students, this is their first introduction of that concept that simple actions can have far-reaching impacts.

“ I get remarks like, ‘I thought we were gonna talk about a bunch of hippie stuff, but this class is way different than I thought,” Sattler stated.

Instead of talking about distant concepts like melting ice caps and disappearing beaches, Sattler tries to make the classes relevant.

“I also try to make what I teach as hands-on as possible and students really like that,” he continued. “I could just teach about solar power, but it’s much more fun to teach about it while students build a solar car or design a solar cell phone charging station for the school.”

Ford’s Gift of Sustainability
“I commute over 20 miles just to work every day,” he wrote. “When you add all the other commitments I have, I do a lot of driving. The Ford C-Max Energy gets up to 108 MPGe highway, which means I will be using a lot less gasoline. In addition, it’s a plug in hybrid and I can go up to 21 miles without using gas at all. That is enough to cover my morning commute to work, or take care of a lot of errands.”

The Sattlers really like the way the solar energy panels will produce most of the power required to run not only the car, but also much of their household needs, thanks to the new high-efficiency appliances.

“The best part is that almost all of the energy needed to charge the battery in the C-MAX will come from the solar panels that are being installed on our roof,” Sattler continued. “I won’t have to use as much gas and I can charge my car using solar power; that’s definitely going to reduce CO2 emissions and help us conserve energy.”

Furthermore, the C-MAX will provide a further inspiration to his students, as a real world example of sustainable energy use.

“I will be teaching my 10th grade students about alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles this year,” he said. “I am really excited to be able to show them firsthand what a plug-in hybrid vehicle looks like, how it operates, and how much it reduces my carbon footprint.”

Finally, the prize package included a Level 2 home charging station by Eaton allowing the recharge of the C-MAX Energi five times faster than with the complimentary home charging cord.

Ford’s Continuing Efforts

Aside from showing others how to lower their carbon footprint and switch to sustainable energy, the auto group is working steadily to incorporate reusable or repurposed materials in their cars, reduce energy usage in their plants and generally improve the environmental stewardship of the corporation.

Ford is researching the use of substances such as retired currency, Indian grass, sugar cane, dandelions, corn, coconuts and a wide range of eco-conscious materials in the fabrication process.

Each 2013 Ford Fusion already contains roughly two pairs of jeans, 39 clear plastic bottles and about 31,000 soybeans. Cellulose from trees may be the next renewable source of raw materials for the automaker.

Ford has cut its total water use by 10.6 billion gallons since the year 2000 – a 62 percent reduction.

By 2016, Ford is on track to produce only 13.4 pounds of waste to landfill for each and every vehicle produced. They have kept 62,000 bumpers from the landfills with a program that recycles these and headlamps to make new vehicle parts.

Finally, the amount of energy used to make a Ford will be 25 percent less by 2016.

“From increasing the use of sustainable materials in the vehicle, like soy-based foam for car seats and post-consumer recycled plastic for seat covers, ambitious water reduction targets, to a 30 percent emissions reduction goal between 2010 and 2025, Ford is always looking for opportunities to reduce emissions and save energy,” concluded Tinskey.