Toyota announced plans last week to reduce emissions from its U.S. operations by 40 percent over the next three years as part of its plan to operate emissions-free by 2050.

The plan calls to purchase Renewable Energy Credits equivalent to 40 percent of the energy needs of Toyota's U.S. operations. Those credits go to fund renewable energy production from wind and solar power, which Toyota says will reduce the demand for electricity generated from fossil fuels.

As automakers focus on emissions from their cars, more and more they're also looking into the emissions from their factories and other operations to help reduce the life-cycle emissions from their cars. Running factories on renewable energy can help off-set some of the additional energy required to build large batteries for electric cars.

Toyota Prius Prime PHV test vehicle with solar panels in Japan

Toyota Prius Prime PHV test vehicle with solar panels in Japan

General Motors has announced plans to use 100 percent renewable electricity in its operations by 2050, and has a program to require its suppliers to do the same.

Volkswagen has its own plans to move to renewable energy and now also requires its suppliers to cut carbon emissions.

Toyota plans to start purchasing the renewable energy credits later this year. "By powering its operations from the enhanced grid and applying Renewable Energy Credits earned by funding the generation of renewable electricity, Toyota expects to substantially offset emissions from its facilities in North America," the company said in a release. 

"We are committed to setting an example of sustainability that goes beyond vehicles to show how a company can significantly reduce the environmental impact of its operations," said Kevin Butt, General Manager and Regional Environmental Sustainability Director for Toyota Motor North America. "By cutting our U.S. emissions by forty percent, we will be that much closer to our goal of having a net positive impact on the environment by the middle of this century."