The Nissan plant in Smyrna is driving its way to becoming a zero-emission plant, and it's well on the road to achieving that goal with the opening of its new multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art paint plant.
Representatives with the U.S. Department of Energy were on hand Wednesday for a tour of the facility.
Any speck of dirt or lint is a concern when painting vehicles, so those on the tour, including the media, had to put on protective clothing and walk through an air blaster just to be sure.
The $200 million, high-tech paint plant officially opened in January.
"This new plant is going to give us abilities to achieve the benchmark globally for flexibility, productivity and energy efficiency and environmental impact," said Nissan Paint Plant Manager Mike Climmer.
The Nissan plant and the new paint facility is part of the Better Buildings - Plants Challenge program through the U.S. Department of Energy. The paint plant is well on its way in helping to reduce Nissan's carbon footprint.
"We built more than just great cars. We built sustainability," said Nissan Vice President of Manufacturing Susan Brennan.
The paint facility is expected to reduce the plant's overall energy consumption by 30 percent, carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent and reduce volatile organic compound emissions by 70 percent.
"Tennessee and Smyrna are at the epicenter of what we see as a major new shift in our energy and manufacturing competitiveness here in the United States," said Dr. David Danielson, assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
The new facility replaces a 30-year-old paint plant that was out of date and not too environmentally friendly. It used to take about 10 hours for vehicles to go through the paint process, but in the new plant it takes half the time, creates less air flow and the need for baking ovens has been eliminated.
Nissan-Smyrna has been an Energy Star-rated facility since 2006 and has been named an Energy Star-rated partner of the year for the past three years.
The plant is hoping to reduce its overall energy use by 25 percent by 2020.
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