GM builds world’s first LEED-certified auto plant, slows SUV production

If BP went Beyond Petroleum, does that mean GM is Greening Motors? The struggling U.S. automaker recently unveiled two nuggets of eco-friendly news. Its brand-spankin’ new Lansing Delta Township assembly plant in Michigan received the U.S. Green Building Council’s gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, making it the world’s first LEED-certified auto-manufacturing plant. The facility’s eco-features — which include waterless urinals and a lights-out section where robots will work — are expected to save 30 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and over 40 million gallons of water during the next 10 years. The plant will also churn out more fuel-efficient “crossover” vehicles, which leads us to that second nugget: production of GM’s largest SUVs will slow during the second half of 2006, given declining sales, high gas prices, and an inventory of Tahoes, Yukons, and Suburbans that just won’t go away. Also, it’s really hard for robots to build big stuff in the dark.