What do General Electric, IKEA and Walgreens have in common? They are all global corporations that are making big breakthroughs in reducing waste and carbon offsets, while increasing their use of renewable energy, alternative fuels and water savings. This saves them money, which they can then pass on to their customers.
General Electric’s Ecomagination line of healthcare products use less energy, water and materials with their new GE Digital Mammography Platform. This new line of mammography equipment reduces their energy, water and chemical use by using digital images to take a mammogram, rather than using analog film and film processing. The new system will replace 27,400 analog films per year eliminating more than 890 pounds of film annually. This reduces hundreds of pounds of toxic waste that is being dumped into landfills.
GE is offering a software solution to healthcare operations to allow them to go to a paperless health records department, reducing tons of paper that would otherwise end up in a landfill. The Centricity Enterprise software reduces costs through less labor intensive recordkeeping as well as the savings in paper and file folders. Their Wave Bioreactor System, which is used for biotherapeutics production, is now utilizing disposable bags which replace stainless steel tanks that were previously used for cell culturing, eliminating the need to steam clean and sterilize the tanks. This reduces the annual energy used by the clinic up to 43 percent, saving them money and reducing their carbon footprint.
Altogether, GE cut total carbon emissions from 10.8 million tons to 6.5 million tons between 2006 and 2008, while increasing their sales from $150 billion to $181 billion. (1)
In 2010 IKEA stopped selling incandescent light bulbs in the United States, and has replaced them with LED lights. They also use renewable energy for 45 percent of their heating needs and 20 percent of their electricity. IKEA is utilizing more web-based business meetings, which reduces the cost of doing business as well as the company’s carbon emissions. At least 35 of their stores no longer use plastic bags, eliminating the landfill waste of 70 million plastic bags a year.
They opened up a furniture plant in Danville, Virginia creating 300 new jobs and reducing the emissions that would have been created by transporting the finished products from their factories overseas to their US stores. They have a goal to use more wood from forests that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and are working closely with the World Wildlife Fund to help owners of timberland in Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia to improve their farming practices. (2)
Walgreens has announced the opening of a new store in Chicago that uses geothermal heating and cooling. The drugstore chain said it is the first in the industryto use the technology in a retail store. The location, in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Ill., is expected to reduce its energy usage by about 46 percent as a result of the geothermal system.
Last year, The Village of Oak Park passed an ordinance requiring any retailer that wants to build a commercial property within its village limits to investigate geothermal energy. Walgreens worked on its Oak Park location with Evanston, Ill.-based Indie Energy, which specializes in designing and installing geothermal systems.
“This store provides online, real-time proof of carbon and cost savings, making it a leading example of sustainability,”said Indie Energy CEO Daniel Cheifetz.
The Oak Park Walgreens geothermal system harnesses the earth’s heat utilizing a network of four closed-loop boreholes installed to depths of 650 feet, and a heat exchange system with the building that is controlled by Indie Energy EnergyLoop technology. (3)
(1). “GE launches new Ecomagination healthcare products, opens renewable energy HQ”, Green Biz.com, 02/02/2010, http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2010/02/02/ge-launches-new-ecomagination-he…
(2). “At IKEA, green is gold”, CNNMoney.com, 11/26/08, Marc Gunther, http://Money.CNN.com/2008/11/25/news/companies/Gunther_IKEA.Fortune
(3) “Chicago Walgreens Goes Geothermal”, November 2010, Matter Network, http://www.matternetwork.com/2010/11/chicago-walgreens-goes-geothermal.cfm