10X13 Ep. 6: Ford + Innovation + Sustainability + Manufacturing + Engineering

John Viera, Ford Motor Co.’s Global Director of Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental Matters, didn’t have a ton of “sustainability” know-how when he assumed his current role in 2006, but with 23 years’ experience in Ford’s operations department, he has been strategically positioned to marry ideas with actual application at the global automaker.

Engineers, John explained to Cleantech Group’s Greg Neichin in Episode 6 of our 10X13 series, are always looking for efficiency in resources and process. His initiatives resonate internally when they are framed in those terms. In addition to using less inputs where possible, using recycled and renewable materials has become practice. As petro-based products have gotten more expensive, their environmentally superior substitutes have become cheaper.  This has enabled Ford to incorporate the innovative materials into more Ford cars and trucks.

John commented on the general shift from “doing less bad” to making an effort to go beyond regulations and to take initiative. In that vein, he explained a strategic collaboration begun this year between Ford, SunPower, Whirlpool, Georgia Tech University, and Eaton to demonstrate the potential reductions in home energy use when incorporating advanced appliance technology, solar power, and plug-in electric vehicles.  The MyEnergi project revealed potential energy savings on the order of 60%.

John’s final point emphasizes Ford’s interest in enabling a more holistically energy efficient lifestyle for its customers, in addition to “folding metal and building cars and trucks.”