New car buyers are more concerned than ever with gas mileage and emissions. But if you want to go truly green, it helps not just to look at the car’s carbon footprint, but also the factory where it’s built.

In Lordstown, Ohio, General Motors has assembled more than 15 million cars over nearly 50 years. Now, IBEW members have upgraded the company’s manufacturing facility with two massive renewable energy projects, just the latest in GM’s growing commitment to renewables.

A new 6.5-acre solar array supplies more than 2 megawatts of clean power to the plant, where members of the United Auto Workers Local 1112 build the Chevrolet Cruze sedan, one of the company’s consistently popular compact cars.

Beginning last November, eight IBEW members worked demanding schedules during the harsh winter to install nearly 9,000 solar panels. The upgrade is the largest solar array for GM in the Western Hemisphere.

“We worked six and seven days a week, 10 hours per day, braving the cold the entire time – a lot during near-zero temperatures,” said Local 573 member Jaime Burdette, general foreman of the crew employed by signatory contractor Dickie Electric.

Members also converted the plant’s lighting fixtures to an LED system, which will reduce lighting costs by about 84 percent.

Local 573 Business Manager Jack Morse praised the members and the contractor for a job well done.

“This project is one of the showpieces for GM in North America,” he said of the array. “It’s right off the Ohio Turnpike, so everybody driving by can see it.”

Morse said he thinks the success of the upgrade will inspire other area companies to invest more in solar power, offering local union members additional work opportunities.

Learn more about the project from Industrial Info Resources.