Like many companies, GE Aviation-Rutland—which manufactures aircraft parts— faced the prospect of laying off some of its skilled work force during the recent economic downturn.
Instead, it doubled down on reducing operating costs, engaging employees in a “Shut it Off” campaign that decreased energy usage by 12 percent and raised awareness about the need to power down equipment when it’s not in use. Energy waste “Treasure Hunts” soon followed, as part of its aggressive effort to reduce the facility’s carbon footprint by 25 percent.
GE Aviation-Rutland and its partner, Efficiency Vermont, the statewide energy efficiency utility, believe that quantifying the impact of sustained behavioral changes is the next frontier in energy efficiency.
At the heart of their effort is the employee-driven Green Mountain Environmental Team, comprised of machine operators, environmental health and safety specialists and facility engineers who collaborate with Efficiency Vermont to identify new energy saving opportunities.
This process has led to facility-wide lighting upgrades, compressed air system upgrades, right sizing of industrial process equipment, installation of electric pumps, and ventilation projects. This introduction of new equipment and processes is carefully evaluated, with Efficiency Vermont onsite weekly to ensure the capture of necessary data and to provide technical expertise and comparison research that the GE employees would not have time in their daily schedules to do.
“The team’s efforts have provided significant benefits to the site as well as the environment,” says Dan DiBattista, plant manager for GE Aviation-Rutland. “The energy savings are enough to power close to 900 Vermont homes annually, and the CO2 emission reduction is the equivalent of removing about 475 cars off the road each year.”
The Rutland facility, along with every other division of GE, reports its energy efficiency upgrades and consolidates monthly utility usage data in order to track progress towards greenhouse gas emissions goals established via ecomagination™, GE’s commitment to imagine and build innovative solutions to today’s environmental challenges while driving economic growth. The reductions reported are compared to the 2004 baseline. GE facilities use a software tool called GenSuite to track and share employee efforts.
For the past four years, GE Aviation-Rutland has been awarded GE’s eCO2 Award in recognition of its energy efficiency efforts and its performance on greenhouse gas emissions goals. This past year, GE Aviation-Rutland was also recognized as the “Best of the Best” across all of global GE, a prestigious award within GE—and another example of how reward and recognition are being used to guide changes in corporate culture.
It is people, not technology, who are at the heart of GE’s energy transformation.