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Volkswagen Builds Passat in Green Chattanooga Plant

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author photo by Nick Palermo December 2011
  • LEED Platinum certification for Chattanooga plant and adjacent VW Academy
  • First auto plant in the world recognized for highest level of performance
  • Green by design to reduce environmental impact


Even before construction of their state-of-the-art Chattanooga manufacturing facility began early in 2009, Volkswagen was already planning to create an international model for environmentally responsible automotive production. The brand new plant allowed the company to design a factory that broke the stereotype of a dirty, smoke-belching auto assembly complex. Instead, Volkswagen built low-impact, sustainable buildings designed to minimize use of energy and resources. The plant was built on a brownfield site that was improved to promote natural rainwater flow and to restore natural habitat.

Recognizing the positive results of VW's environmental commitment at the Chattanooga facility, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the plant their top honors, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification.

Both the factory and the adjacent Volkswagen Academy, a training facility for plant workers, received Platinum ratings by meeting the LEED framework for green standards in design, construction, maintenance and operations.

The Chattanooga plant occupies a former brownfield site, the location of a previous industrial facility. Rather than disturbing untouched land, Volkswagen restored the site, providing protected areas for two naturally flowing creeks and establishing low-impact natural habitats. Improvements also included replacing impervious surfaces with plantings and using reflective paving to decrease heat retention.

Reflective roofing material also reduces the "heat island" effect on the factory building itself. Six inches of mineral rock wool insulation in the factory walls results in further energy savings.

Rain water is collected and stored, then reused to flush toilets and cool welding machines. Along with low-flow fixtures and no-touch sensors, the plant saves up to 350,000 gallons of water per month.

Company officials say they are proud of the recognition for the plant's green innovations. Volkswagen Chattanooga CEO and chairman Frank Fischer believes that the extra efforts and financial commitment required will pay off in the long run.

"LEED Platinum certification is the fulfillment of a promise that Volkswagen has made around the world and in this community that we will work in harmony with the environment," Fischer said. "Our commitment to building a LEED certified factory began in the planning and development stages. I believe this not only helped insure that we would achieve Platinum status, but was actually a very cost effective way to implement environmentally responsible building methods."

The Chattanooga plant builds the all-new 2012 Passat, Volkswagen's mid-size sedan that recently won the prestigious Motor Trend 2012 Car of the Year award. The diesel-powered Passat TDI is rated at an earth-friendly 43 highway mpg.

What it means to you:

Those looking for a vehicle with environmental credentials beyond fuel economy may look to the VW Passat, a car built in a clean, green and modern US factory.

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Volkswagen Builds Passat in Green Chattanooga Plant - Autotrader