Auto assembly line

Manufacturing is an important part of the U.S. economy, but making cars, clothing, and other goods uses a lot of energy, which creates carbon pollution.

Melissa Hulting of the EPA says manufacturers often do not think about energy use beyond paying a utility bill each month.

“For some of these folks, the challenge is being able to get started tracking their energy use and paying attention to it,” she says.

So to motivate manufacturers to save energy, the EPA offers the Energy Star Challenge for Industry. Participating facilities measure the energy they use per square foot or unit of production, then try to reduce it by 10% within five years.

“Whether it’s through new equipment or in a lot of cases, in fact, it can be small operational tweaks,” Hulting says.

More than 1,000 American plants around the world have signed up, and over 500 have already met or exceeded the goal.

“On average they have almost a 20% reduction in just under two years,” Hulting says.

That’s good for the climate. And Hulting says it often saves money that companies can invest elsewhere.

“They can hire more people, they can buy better equipment, they can start a new product line,” she says. “It’s making the manufacturing sector more robust.”

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.