WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working in cooperation with the U.S. auto industry, has created a rating system for measuring the energy efficiency of assembly plants producing passenger cars, light duty trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans in the United States. The system, part of the EPA's Energy Star program, is intended to help companies cut energy usage, save money and protect the environment.

Currently, motor vehicle manufacturers in the United States spend more than $700 million annually on energy for assembly plants. According to the EPA, if energy use across the industry were reduced by 5 percent, the savings would be equivalent to the fuel used to operate almost 78,000 passenger cars for a year-preventing the emission of more than 1 billion pounds of greenhouse gases.

Dubbed the Energy Star Automobile Assembly Plant energy performance indicator (EPI), the rating system allows a company to determine how efficiently it is using energy compared to the industry as a whole. Specifically, using simple plant-level information, a facility is rated on a scale of 1 to 100. The EPA defines an efficient plant as one with a score of 75 or better.

The automobile assembly plant EPI is a part of a broader EPA and Energy Star efforts focused on effective energy management as well as the necessary tools and expertise necessary to reduce energy use. Many participating companies have reported substantial environmental, cost and energy savings while receiving recognition for their leadership.

Energy Star industrial programs have also been initiated for the cement and pharmaceutical manufacturing sectors, as well as the corn and petroleum refining industries. Energy Star is a voluntary, market- based partnership designed to offer business and consumers effective energy efficiency solutions for saving energy, money and the environment. A separate focus is underway for water and wastewater treatment plants operated by local governments and sanitary services companies.

For more information about Energy Star, visit www.energystar.gov.