GE expands energy efficiency Treasure Hunt program

Energy efficiency retrofits save money.

In the case of Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, savings amounted to $2.1 million with a payback of 2.6 years.

The Roosevelt, part of nonprofit Continuum Health Partners' system, served as the first site for GE's Ecomagination Treasure Hunt program, which the corporation has decided to expand. GE has enlisted the Environmental Defense Fund to help identify energy savings at select sites, including facilities run by the cities of Atlanta and Orlando, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and others.

“Trillions of dollars in energy savings are up for grabs in the United States,” said Gwen Ruta, an EDF vice president, in a statement. “Working with GE, we’re making it possible for cities and towns, hospitals and universities and businesses of all sizes to ferret out the valuable energy treasure buried in their own backyards.”

Just how GE plans to bring the program to the rest of the country remains a little unclear. However, the concept is sound and can be replicated by just about anyone. The energy audits done by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Southern California Edison and the California Energy Commission in preparation for federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funds essentially is a similar undertaking.

For the Treasure Hunt, GE's goal is to "identify, quantify and recommend enhancements to sources of energy waste –- including electricity, natural gas, water, wastewater, compressed air and steam."

Obvious energy efficiency retrofits are usually lighting replacements, air conditioning upgrades, cool roofs and swapping out inefficient electrical motors with variable frequency drive models. The Stockton Chamber of Commerce has had big dividends with its Recycling Energy Air Conservation, or REACON, program, saving electricity, water and diverting waste from landfills.

“Extending our Treasure Hunts to external partners and helping them reduce costs and save energy is a logical next step for GE," said Steve Fludder, GE’s vice president of Ecomagination. “This initiative has already revealed significant results.”

Photo: Roosevelt Hospital.