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GE to lower water use, raise Ecomagination target

Conglomerate commits to reducing its water usage by 20 percent by 2012, while increasing its investments in clean tech.

General Electric is pledging to lower its water use 20 percent by 2012 and is boosting its revenue target for environmentally oriented products.

CEO Jeffrey Immelt said Wednesday at a customer presentation in Beijing that Ecomagination--GE's initiative to make goods that conserve energy and natural resources--brought in $14 billion in revenue last year, a 15 percent increase over the previous year.


GE, a tech, media, and finanical services conglomerate with more than 300,000 employees, had originally targeted $20 billion in revenue from Ecomagination by 2010, but on Wednesday raised the forecast to $25 billion by that time.

It also said that investments in clean-tech research and development topped $1 billion last year. Its target is to hit $1.5 billion in annual clean-tech investments this year.

As expected, GE announced a program at the event to reduce its internal water usage. It will report annually its water reductions progress, similar to how it now does with its carbon emissions.

The company said it intends to use its own water treatment technologies to reduce its consumption and free up 7.4 million cubic meters of fresh water a year. That's 2 billion U.S. gallons, or the equivalent of 3,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, GE said.

In 2006, which will serve as its baseline to measure future reductions, GE used 37,850,000 cubic meters, or 10 billion U.S. gallons, of fresh water--enough for almost 400,000 people in the U.S. per year, it said.

GE will reuse waste water at its manufacturing and power-generation facilities and seek to apply those techniques for agriculture, municipal water-treatment plants, and industrial customers.

The company made the water consumption commitment to highlight revenue growth from Ecomagination and the importance of fresh water technologies.

"Ecomagination is one of the most successful cross-company business initiatives in our recent history," Immelt said in a statement. "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."