GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt yesterday launched a new ecomagination commitment, announcing a company-wide absolute 20 per cent fresh water reduction target by 2012. The new initiative is one of the world's most aggressive corporate water reduction targets to date and is expected to save 7.4 million cubic meters or 2 billion US gallons of fresh water - enough to fill more than 3,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Launched in May 2005, ecomagination is GE's commitment to imagine and build innovative technologies that help customers address their environmental and financial needs and help GE grow. The company also issued its third annual accounting report yesterday on how the strategic investment is delivering for GE, its customers and investors.
"Harnessing our technologies and global capabilities, GE's commitment sets the standard for water footprint reductions," said Immelt. "We will use our broad portfolio to reduce water consumption, ensure long-term supplies and increase operational returns at GE facilities around the world."
In 2007 its water consumption from water used for potable, process, and sanitary purposes as well as non-contact cooling water from freshwater sources decreased by 2 per cent from its 2006 figures.
In 2006, GE used approximately 37 million cubic meters (10 billion US gallons) of fresh water. Using this figure as a baseline, GE will aggressively implement water reuse and process efficiencies to meet the company's absolute water reduction target. Selective GE sites will reduce water use by applying process efficiencies and / or reusing highly treated wastewater for a variety of commercial and manufacturing needs, such as, boiler feed water, cooling tower make-up, heat exchangers and manufacturing processes. GE will use the same portfolio of water-saving solutions to help reduce municipal, industrial and agriculture customers' fresh water use.
As part of the water reduction target, GE will also use its industry-proven water assessment tools to help customers like Baosteel Group Corporation to evaluate their water use, identify efficiency goals and metrics and deliver solutions that meet customers' environmental and regulatory goals.
"We are delighted to be working together with GE in water reduction and other areas,"
"Baosteel promises to continue reducing its water consumption; sharing its experiences with industry peers; and improving overall water resource management in the steel industry," said Xu Lejiang, chairman of Baosteel Group Corporation. "Baosteel believes that efficient use of limited water resources will lead to unlimited, sustainable development of our business."
For Jeff Garwood, president and CEO, GE Water & Process Technologies, "Water conservation and reuse can be a valuable tool for customers to reduce operating costs and create new sources of revenue. In fact, our water solutions treat millions of cubic meters of water a day -- allowing our customers to minimise their exposure to water scarcity, reduce costs and water footprints."
In addition to announcing the water reduction commitment, GE also released a comprehensive water reuse white paper designed to help communities and other governmental authorities to increase recycling and reuse of water in their area. The white paper includes a menu of policies and global best practices that are being used in different locations around the world and identifies four major policies to increase recycling and reuse: education and outreach; removing barriers; incentives; mandates and regulation.
The company also reported that revenues from its portfolio of energy efficient and environmentally beneficial products and services crossed $14 billion in 2007, up more than 15 per cent from 2006; the ecomagination order book surged past $70 billion; and GE's own "cleantech" fund - investment in cleaner technology research and development - passed $1 billion for the first time.
"Ecomagination is one of the most successful cross-company business initiatives in our recent history," said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, in Beijing to report the progress with GE customers and partners. "It is a clear amplifier of our strong reputation for innovation and execution, harnessing the strength of every GE business to maximize returns for GE investors while minimizing our own energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
"Today, we take our commitment further: to reduce our water consumption by one-fifth by 2012.
In 2005, GE set an original goal to raise revenues from ecomagination products from $6 billion in 2004 to $20 billion in 2010. It forecasts that it will surpass $20 billion by 2009, a year early of schedule, and is consequently raising the annual ecomagination revenue goal to $25 billion by 2010.
GE said that in 2007 it had:
- Doubled its investment in clean research and development and invested $1.1 billion in cleaner technology research and development, closing in on its $1.5-billion annual ecomagination R&D target by 2010
- GE also increased the number of ecomagination-certified products by 38 per cent over last year - from 45 to 62 products
- Increased its revenues from ecomagination products with $14 billion in revenues from ecomagination products and services in 2007 and is now raising its revenue target from an original goal of $20 billion in annual sales by 2010 to $25 billion
- Reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 8 per cent in 2007 from the 2004 baseline, while reducing GHG and energy intensity by 34 per cent and 33 per cent respectively - ahead of its commitment to reduce its GHG emissions 1 per cent by 2012, reduce the intensity of its GHG emissions 30 per cent by 2008, and improve energy efficiency 30 per cent by the end of 2012
- As a consequence, energy cost savings to the company have been roughly $100 million so far
Most of all, GE's commitment to reduce its own environmental footprint has caught the imagination of its employees around the world, with more than 5,000 energy saving and greenhouse gas-reducing projects ongoing at GE facilities.