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GE Becomes First Full-line Appliance Manufacturer in the U.S. to Adopt New Technology, Drastically Reducing Carbon Footprint

April 28, 2011

· By transitioning to cyclopentane, GE’s Decatur, Ala., plant will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 400,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent annually. This is equal to the annual emissions of 78,000 cars on U.S. roads.

· The transition to cyclopentane will reduce foam insulation-related emissions in Decatur by 99 percent.

DECATUR, Ala.--28 April 2011-- GE Appliances & Lighting is leading the way as the first full-line appliance manufacturer in the U.S. to adopt a foam-blowing agent, known as cyclopentane, that significantly reduces the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the insulating process in the manufacturing of its top-freezer refrigerators in Decatur, Ala. Using cyclopentane – a foam-blowing agent used to propel insulation into the doors and cases of refrigerators – will reduce the facility’s GHG emissions from the foam-blowing process by 99 percent compared to the foam-blowing agent it replaces.1

“GE Appliances & Lighting is looking at every aspect of environmental stewardship for our appliances — from manufacturing processes to more responsible product end-of-life management,” said Paul Surowiec, general manager, refrigeration, GE Appliances & Lighting. “We also offer hundreds of ENERGY STAR®-qualified models to ensure our appliances deliver efficiency and cost savings to consumers throughout the appliance’s life.”

Benefit Equivalent to CO2 of 78,000 Cars

By transitioning to cyclopentane as the foam-insulating agent for GE’s 16-, 17- and 18-cubic-foot top-freezer refrigerators this April, GE’s Decatur, Ala., plant will reduce GHG emissions from the foam-insulating process by more than 400,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent annually. This is equal to:

  • The annual emissions of 78,000 cars on U.S. roads.2
  • The annual CO2 absorbed by more than 100,000 acres of southeastern U.S. forest3 – an area equivalent to nearly seven Manhattan islands.4

This reduction from replacing the previous foam-insulating agent5 with cyclopentane is so significant that GE will actually reduce the GHG emissions of the entire Decatur manufacturing facility by more than 80 percent. And, compared to the insulator it replaces,6 initial tests indicate cyclopentane also increases the efficiency of the insulating foam, yielding energy efficiency improvements and cost savings for consumers.

“GE’s commitment to develop and deploy solutions for today’s environmental challenges is a top priority,” Surowiec said. “GE’s transition to cyclopentane as a foam-blowing agent for top-freezer refrigerators is another great step forward in the spirit of our company’s ecomaginationSM initiative.”

GE Creates Jobs

GE’s investments in more sustainable manufacturing are helping to create U.S. jobs, and the transition to cyclopentane and other product developments are expected to create 25 new jobs in Decatur. GE announced last October plans to invest a total of $59 million in the Decatur manufacturing facility to create a Center of Excellence for top-freezer refrigerators and more sustainable manufacturing. This total investment will help retain more than 1,000 jobs.

Applauding the efforts of Decatur’s employees, plant manager Tom Rossi added, “This could not have happened without the complete dedication of our manufacturing employees and engineers here in Decatur. Making the transition happen has been a full-time job for many of us since last July, and I certainly appreciate the dedication that has enabled GE to become the first full-line appliance manufacturer in the U.S. to use cyclopentane in refrigerators.”

By 2014, GE will offer the highest percentage of U.S.-made refrigerators among full-line appliance makers, thanks to investments at GE’s U.S. refrigeration plants.

Making ecomagination a bigger part of GE

GE expects a significant reduction of the GHG emissions it produces by converting other U.S. refrigeration manufacturing facilities to cyclopentane within the next few years. GE plans to convert the refrigeration insulating manufacturing process at its side-by-side Center of Excellence in Bloomington, Ind., and its bottom-freezer refrigerator Center of Excellence in Louisville, Ky., to cyclopentane by 2014.

Additionally, GE was recently awarded the ENERGY STAR “Sustained Excellence” Award for the sixth straight year, recognizing GE’s commitment to delivering high-efficiency products to consumers. GE also announced in February that it is the first appliance manufacturer to partner with the Environmental Protection Agency on its Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program, with a focus on refrigeration recycling best practices.

For more details on this announcement, visit http://pressroom.geconsumerproducts.com/pr/ge/_prv-ge-becomes-first-full-line-manufacturer-202327.aspx.

For broadcast-quality video, click http://videobred.tv/GEMEDIAHUB/.

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About GE Appliances & Lighting

GE Appliances & Lighting spans the globe as an industry leader in major appliances, lighting, systems and services for commercial, industrial and residential use. Technology innovation and the company's ecomagination℠ initiative enable GE Appliances & Lighting to aggressively bring to market products and solutions that help customers meet pressing environmental challenges. General Electric (NYSE: GE), imagination at work, sells products under the Monogram®, Profile™, Café™, GE®, Hotpoint®, Reveal® and Energy Smart® consumer brands, and Tetra®, Vio™ and Immersion® commercial brands. For more information, consumers may visit www.ge.com.

About GE’s ecomagination

GE is driving a global energy transformation with a focus on innovation and R&D investment to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technology. Since its inception in 2005, more than 90 ecomagination-approved products have been brought to market with revenues reaching $18 billion in 2009. With $5 billion invested in R&D its first five years, GE committed to doubling its ecomagination investment and collaborating with partners to accelerate a new era of energy innovation. The company will invest $10 billion in R&D over five years and double operational energy efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption. As part of the initiative, GE launched “GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid”, a $200 million financial commitment challenging innovators to join in developing clean energy technologies. It is extending this Challenge with the “GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering Your Home,” to develop technologies that help households manage their energy usage. For more information, visit the ecomagination website at http://ge.ecomagination.com/index.html.

1 Cyclopentane replaces HFC 134a.

2 Assuming the average rate of CO2 emissions per U.S. passenger car is 5.11 MT CO2 per year. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Emission Facts: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle.

3 Average rate of CO2 sequestration by U.S. forest equals 3.7 MT of CO2 per acre per year. Source: U.S. EPA Climate Protection Partnerships Division - Unit Conversions, Emissions Factors, and Other Reference Data (2004).

4 According to the U.S. Census, Manhattan is approximately 23 square miles (land only): http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/3651003.html. One square mile is equal to 640 acres, meaning Manhattan island is approximately 14,720 acres: http://www.metric-conversions.org/area/square-miles-to-acres.htm. Calculation: 100,000/14,720 is equal to 6.8.

5 HFC-134a

6 HFC-134a

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Contact Information

Kim Freeman
Name
Kim Freeman
Job Title
Division
GE Consumer & Industrial - Americas
Phone
502 452 7819
Fax
Mobile
Email
kim_freeman@ge.com