GE's High-Efficiency Investment

Since 2001, GE Consumer & Industrial, a $13 billion Louisville, Ky.-based unit of General Electric Co., has invested more than $500 million in high-efficiency products and, by its count, currently offers nearly 600 appliance and lighting products that meet or exceed specific U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for energy efficiency and pollution reduction. Under terms of a joint DOE-EPA recognition program, such products can be marketed as Energy Star-qualified. And in February of this year, GE Consumer & Industrial was named a DOE-EPA Energy Star Partner of the Year for contributions to environmental protection and energy efficiency in manufacturing appliances and lighting products. Why invest about a half a billion bucks? "The easiest answer is that we believe our customers want those products," says James P. Campbell, president and CEO of GE Consumer and Industrial -- Americas. "And our end-goal is always to work [from the] market back and develop the kind of products our customers want and are willing to buy." Consumers "are beginning" to perceive a link between less energy usage and a benefit to the environment, he says. GE has put its money into product design, primarily, as well as into improving manufacturing processes and marketing. "The majority has been into design and manufacture, because if the product isn't energy efficient, it doesn't really pay to market it," says Campbell. "You really got to have the platform. In particular [with] some of the new refrigerators or the high-efficiency laundry products, you have got to invest to get there, to get those products to the kind of levels that we want to. And then from there we develop the collateral material, the marketing story and everything else that goes with it." GE's product lines include 110 Energy Star-qualified dishwashers, 247 Energy Star qualified refrigeration models and 20 Energy Star-qualified clothes washer models. GE is also a recipient of the EPA 2004 Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award. GE has eliminated all ozone-depleting foam blowing agents in its worldwide operations. Foam blowing agents are, among other things, used in the process of insulating refrigerators.

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