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GE’s Jeff Renaud Discusses Ecomagination And Transparency

There’s an interview from Sustainable Life Media with Jeff Renaud, Director of GE’s Ecomagination program. In it, Renaud says that at the heart of Ecomagination is the belief that financial and environmental performance can work together to drive growth for GE and its customers and that a “green is green” mentality is central to the program.

Contrast GE’s stance with other large companies that seem hesitant at times to play up the environmental aspects and economic benefits of their products to protect themselves from criticism that they aren’t ”green enough.”

An article from earlier this year said that environmental bloggers seem to be bothered by the fact that green initiatives are also turning into savvy business moves. As an example, the article pointed to Hewlett-Packard’s redesign of its print cartridge packaging, which not only “greened” its production, but also cut shipping costs.

But the idea that Ecomagination saves GE, and could save other companies, money, has been a big part of its success. While other companies focus marketing on the environmental aspects of a product, often leading to greenwashing accusations, economic benefits are a big part of Ecomagination’s marketing story. This lack of embarrassment at doing what companies hire it to do, save them money, is working. The company reported revenues of $10.1 billion from environmental products in 2005, up from $6.2 billion in 2004.

But by being so open, the company does take hits. GE, according to another article, does sell wind turbines, but it probably sells even more jet engines.

“We’re very careful about how we use the Ecomagination brand,” says Renaud. “We employ a rigorous, third-party audited, certification process to determine whether individual products and services deliver sufficiently differentiated financial and environmental performance to be Ecomagination-certified. Looking at GE’s overall advertising and digital media efforts, it’s clear that Ecomagination is a core element. These efforts are part of our commitment to keep the public informed. We also believe that Ecomagination has had and will continue to have a positive impact on GE’s overall brand value.”

The SLM interview is a preview of Renaud’s talk at the upcoming Sustainable Brands ’07 conference.

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