Susan Cischke – Group Vice President, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering, Ford Motor Company

Susan Cischke

Meet one of PINK’s Top 10 Women in Sustainability, 2011!

By Rachel Pomerance

Remember when the family went car shopping, and Dad patrolled the vehicle, weighing the glitz of a shiny new car against the sobering cost of filling the tank? What would Pop think of today’s Ford? The company is curbing petroleum use not only through fuel but also in the guts of their vehicles, which are now 85 percent recyclable by weight.

“What was once see as ‘nice to have’ is now recognized as imperative to our business and our planet,” says Ford’s Susan M. Cischke. Soy foam seat cushions, in more than 20 Ford vehicles, have helped Ford reduce its annual petroleum oil usage by more than 10,500 barrels and cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 11 million pounds – the annual equivalent of 965 typical American households.

Why should Cischke be proud?

  • Money saved: In 2009, Ford saved some $4.5 million by using recycled materials – along with 25 to 30 million pounds of plastic from North American landfills.

  • Repairing critical relationships: Ford is sharing information and working closely with environmental non-governmental organizations these days. “To have turned a relationship that was once contentious and adversarial into a collaborative relationship to attain mutual goals is deeply satisfying,” Cischke says.

  • Striving to be better: As Cischke considers the range of solutions to advance her company, she references a quote by its chairman, Bill Ford: “Creating a strong business and building a better world are not conflicting goals – they are both essential ingredients for long-term success.”

What’s next?

  • Building on what’s begun. Cischke cites the so-called “triple bottom line” of sustainability as it applies to the environment, community and economy.

  • Electrification: Hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure battery electric vehicles are all part of Ford’s strategy. Keep your eyes peeled for the Focus Electric, a battery passenger car available this year and two new hybrids for 2012.

  • Energy Efficient Facilities: Ford is building on its environmental initiatives, like the 2003 installation of the world’s largest living roof, as certified by Guinness World Records. The current roof of its Dearborn Truck Plant boasts 10.4 acres of sedum, captures rainwater and carbon dioxide and offsets energy costs with insulation. The company now plans to install what it believes will be Michigan’s largest solar power generation system, along with electric vehicle charging stations at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan.


Rachel Pomerance, a writer and public relations professional, specializes in sustainable transportation at Pomerance & Associates. The all-female firm, which is owned by her mother, Barbara Pomerance, manages the communications for the Washington Auto Show®.
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