Later this week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is set to release a special report on managing the risks of extreme events and disasters. The findings will likely cover a wide spectrum of contributors to climate change and hardly settle the global warming debate.
But by the time consensus arrives, it may be too late to develop the technological answers needed to tackle the changing climate, as well as issues tied to population increase and resource scarcity. That’s why six years ago GE launched ecomagination, a core business strategy whose goal has been to generate sustainable economic growth and improve the lives of the world’s 7 billion people.
Ecomagination has focused on developing cleaner sources of energy, reducing emissions and engineering green technologies that help customers save costs, grow more efficient, and gain independence and a competitive edge. So far, GE has invested $5 billion in the development of clean technologies and committed to invest a total of $10 billion by 2015.
Today there are 130 products and solutions in the ecomagination portfolio, spanning a broad range of industries: from powerful and efficient jet engines, to WattStations for charging electric vehicles, thin film solar panels, and clever home energy use monitoring technology.
Ecomagination also makes good business sense. Through 2010, GE has generated $85 billion from ecomagination products and solutions and the portfolio’s revenue grew double the rate of overall GE revenues. Ecomagination-qualified products, which have to meet a rigorous array of criteria, can be used to help customers meet their internal reduction goals. GE has lowered its own greenhouse emissions by 22% from an adjusted 2004 baseline, delivered a 30% reduction in water use, and saved $130 million in energy costs through the implementation of many strategies, including the use of GE’s own eco products.
Take a look at some of the products in the ecomagination portfolio:
Business: GE Transportation
Function: Software that enables rail networks to operate more efficiently, increasing speed of delivery, cutting fuel costs and reducing emissions. For a railroad with 20,000 miles of tracks, an increase of just two miles per hour in rail network velocity potentially saves $200 million per year in capital and operating expenses. The algorithm updates in real time based on schedules and information communicated from the trains about their movements relative to one another–every three minutes, to help train dispatchers better manage their network.