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The Dow Jones Sustainability Index has named BMW the most sustainable automobile company in the world for the 5th consecutive year. The index was first published in 1999, so it is in its 10th year now. Effectively, this means that right now, BMW is the world’s most ‘greenest’ automaker.

BMW has just established a Sustainability Board in summer 2009, which comprises of the entire Board of Management, determines the strategic alignment for sustainability issues. They meet twice a year to discuss and adopt the strategies and activities proposed at operational level.

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Sustainability is not only defined by your product mix. On one hand BMW makes the zero emissions MINI E (though on trial), but on the other hand you also have the BMW X6 M, weighing well over 2,000kg with 555 PS sent to all four wheels yet can only move four from A to B.

No, it’s more than that. It also includes the production plants, production processes, green recycling practices, etc. It also extends beyond the gates of their office buildings and plants, sustainability is also the excuse that they gave for leaving F1. Whether that’s the real reason or not, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’ll score some brownie points on whatever index the DJSI is using.

These are the examples of sustainability activities that you don’t see when you take delivery of your new 323i. BMW’s Munich R&D center uses naturally cold groundwater to cool some buildings. This saves about 10,000 MWh of electricity, and translates to 6,300 tons of CO2 a year. At their Spartanburg plant where the X6 M is built, over 60% of total energy requirements are from methane gas from a nearby landfill.

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BMW also takes care not to waste any water unnecessarily. The water cycles at BMW plants are designed to reuse water as often as possible. In fact, BMW’s engine plant in Steyr produced 733,500 engines in 2008 without generating any wastewater at all. The aim is for a 30% reduction of water, energy, solvent emissions and waste per vehicle between 2006 and 2012, and we’re smack in the middle of that now.

But for us Malaysian motorists usually when you hear the word ‘green’ or even BMW’s EfficientDynamics brand, you usually think of the product itself – reduced fuel consumption and reduced tailpipe emissions, unfortunately less so the latter with most people. Now with better quality Euro 2M diesel here, you can expect some interesting announcements from BMW this week.

You can probably already guess what it is, but I’ll be back with the full details later this week. I think what’s coming is great and I can only wish that the manufacturers who sell the more affordable cars here in Malaysia are going to do the same.