Tennessee: U.S. Automaker Improves Plant’s Performance, Saves Costs

Project Overview
Positive Impact: Nissan invested $331,000 to implement SEP (including internal staff time), resulting in a payback of just four months.
Locations: Tennessee
Partners: Nissan
Clean Energy Sector: Energy-saving homes, buildings, and manufacturingPDF

EERE’s Superior Energy Performance (SEP) is a new, market-based energy management and certification program. A central element of SEP is to implement the global energy management standard, ISO 50001, with additional requirements to achieve and document energy performance improvements. Nissan worked with EERE to establish a baseline energy profile for its Smyrna, Tennessee, manufacturing plant—implementing the ISO 50001 energy management system (EnMS) standard, assessing measures to save energy, and verifying the resulting improvements in energy performance. By implementing EnMS and recommended energy-saving projects, the facility’s energy performance improved by about 7.2%, qualifying Nissan for SEP certification at the silver level (improvements in energy performance between 5% and 10%).

Investments in operational and capital projects are typically justified by payback periods of one to three years, which is the general standard across the automobile industry. By carefully ranking and selecting potential measures and projects, Nissan was able to achieve a payback of about four months and annual energy cost savings of $938,000 that are attributable to SEP. This improvement is also saving Nissan 250 billion British thermal units. Thus, projects with similar savings and payback periods should be highly attractive to other automotive manufacturers—making Nissan’s Smyrna plant a successful demonstration project for the SEP program. EnMS has also helped personnel at the Smyrna facility recognize how their actions affect energy use within the facility, and it prompted the company to consider the energy impacts of new design projects and facility and equipment modifications. Nissan plans to continue using the new EnMS at its Smyrna facility, as well as extend the energy management.

The Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) partners with industry, small business, universities, and other stakeholders to identify and invest in emerging technologies with the potential to create high-quality domestic manufacturing jobs and enhance the global competitiveness of the United States.


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