General Electric has launched an “Ecoassessment Center of Excellence” at its research center in Niskayuna in an effort to design and manage more energy-efficient products.
The center consists of a small team of scientists and engineers who will try to discover new ways to study an environmental footprint of a product, said GE Global Research spokesman Todd Alhart.
GE will incorporate the findings into its manufacturing processes, Alhart said. GE makes hundreds of products, ranging from refrigerators and jet engines to turbines and medical imaging devices.
Engineer Bill Flanagan, who leads the center’s team, said researchers are trying to understand how a product affects the environment at each stage of its life cycle. A product’s life cycle runs from the acquisition of raw materials, to the creation of the product, to how it is packaged and to how it is disposed of.
“It really gets down to a detailed understanding of what is green,” Flanagan said.
For GE, green “depends on the product’s function,” he said. GE wants to develop products with the best environmental performance.
Flanagan said GE can make money by providing clean technology solutions while also reducing the environmental footprint of developing those solutions.
“It’s a win-win-win equation,” he said.
GE launched the center a year ago as a pilot project, Flanagan said. It formally established the center last week. GE officials would not provide additional details about the center, calling its work proprietary.
Alhart said GE is doubling its level of investment in green research and development from $700 million in 2005 to more than $1.5 billion by 2010. The investment is spread out throughout the GE corporation.