I was saddened by the news of the latest earthquake near Modena, Italy yesterday; I was in Modena two weeks ago, visiting the University of Modena e Reggio Emilia and the Ferrari Museum next to the Ferrari factory complex in nearby Maranello. According to Reuters, it's closed now, for safety reasons.
I am not particularly interested in fast expensive cars, and don't usually have the time of day for companies making such things calling themselves "green" when their products are not, it is a contradiction in terms. But there was a lot to be impressed by at the Ferrari plant that went way beyond a few solar panels on the roof. It starts with this statement, transcribed below because of my lousy photography:
The quality of our cars cannot be separated from the lives of the people working at the Ferrari plant. What keeps together the workers manual skill, their humanity, the work of those who carry out the processes and those who supervise them and the care they produce is the special care we take over the environment.
Light, air, vegetation, relaxation areas, cleanliness, functionality and regulated temperatures contribute not only to the qulaity of work and life, but also to creativity and the excellence of the product. The architectural project is also accompanied by investments and programs aimed at improving safety at the workplace and environmental sustainability.
And indeed, they have made some significant investments in green tech.
Ferrari has installed a cogeneration power station that burns natural gas to produce electricity, hot water from the exhaust and cold water from a heat driven chiller, all with 79% efficiency. Along with a massive solar array that generates 213,895 kWh per year, Ferrari is almost completely self-sufficient in energy production. The little it needs from outside sources, it buys from renewable sources. This has led to a reduction in CO2 emissions of 40%, totalling 40,000 tonnes.
But what really impressed was the way they take working conditions so seriously. Ferarri doesn't skimp when it comes to design of their buildings, with Renzo Piano designing the wind tunnel, Jean Nouvel doing an assembly hall, Massimiliano Fuksas doing the office building and Marco Visconti doing a restaurant.
John Tagliabue wrote in the New York Times a few years ago about the design program at Ferrari:
But the architecture is not just about style and aesthetics. In the machining center, where engine blocks fresh from the foundry are finished before assembly, Mr. Visconti, the architect, “sought to fit the demands of modern architecture with our needs,” said Luigi Bonezzi, who is responsible for running the building. The new buildings, he said, conserve energy by using solar cells and trigeneration systems, which produce electricity, heat and cooling simultaneously from a single energy source, like a gas burner. They also feature the widespread use of indoor gardens to increase productivity, where workers can meet for conferences or simply to rest between shifts.
This was evident throughout, even down to the Ferrari red bikes available for employees to get around on.
A few years ago I wrote The Dumbest Green Buildings in TreeHugger, complaining about LEED certified airports and bottled water plants, green monster houses and even a Space Port, calling them all contradictions in terms. I probably would have included the Ferrari factory had I known of it at the time. I would have been wrong.
This factory visit was a bit of an epiphany for me; They are doing all of those things that I care about, fabulous design, serious consideration for health and wellbeing, with serious carbon reduction and solar panels on top.
And even if I turn up my nose at gas guzzlers for the 1%, I have to admit that they are seriously beautiful. A few un-TreeHugger photos follow this video by Sylvie Barak of EE|Times, who was on the tour with me and talks more about the cars and the engineering.
I really prefer the vintage models
But this rocket looked pretty cool.