Caterpillar on track for greenhouse gas reduction target

Caterpillar has pledged to reduce its global greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2010 as part of the company’s partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency.

The GHG reduction pledge is a target goal set by Caterpillar and the EPA’s Climate Leaders GHG Program. One of the world’s largest manufacturers of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines, Caterpillar is also one of two such companies involved in the program, having joined in 2003.

GE Transportation, a unit of General Electric which manufactures a variety of products for aviation, marine, rail and mining industries, has also pledged a GHG reduction with the EPA.

Caterpillar spokesman Jim Dugan said the pledge is simply a continuation of things that have already been done.

“This pledge gives us the chance to partner with the EPA and work toward the goal in a public way,” Dugan said. “We had been doing it anyway and will continue to do so.”

Between 1990 and 2001, Caterpillar reduced direct GHG emissions from its facilities by 450,000 tonnes. A tonne is the EPA’s measurement unit for GHG, with one tonne equaling 1,000 kilograms.

Dugan said the 20 percent pledge is a “realistic goal” Caterpillar determined in accordance with the EPA’s goal-setting recommendations. The EPA states these goals must be: corporate-wide; based on the most recent base year for which data are available; achieved in five to 10 years; expressed as an absolute GHG reduction or as a decrease in GHG intensity; and aggressive compared to the projected GHG performance for the company’s sector.

“By setting an aggressive target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, Caterpillar is leading efforts to improve our global environment and showing what can be accomplished in partnership with the EPA,” said Jeff Holmstead, assistant administrator of the EPA.

The GHG reductions Caterpillar pledged are based on a revenue-normalized target that allows the company to account for increases or decreases in production over time. In many cases, the company is saving money by lowering its impact on the environment.

“This pledge makes business sense anyway,” Dugan said. He said most of the GHG reduction would come from fuel switching, process changes and energy conservation programs. Many of these policies are already in place.

Caterpillar has reduced the number of fluorescent light bulbs in its Peoria, Ill., facility from four to two bulbs in individual lighting units in addition to replacing each bulb with a more energy-efficient model.

“It’s pretty simple, but spread out over the entire enterprise it can add up over time,” Dugan said.

Similar progress has been made in the company’s other facilities, including manufacturing plants.

At its manufacturing plants in Aurora, Ill., and Mossville, Ill., Caterpillar recently replaced its onsite coal power sources with natural gas models. This switch combined heat and power production using Caterpillar’s own solar turbines that recover wasted heat.

Patrick Beeson can be contacted at