Mark Vachon, Vice President, GE ecomagination, attended the GW Moving the Planet Forward Innovation Summit at The George Washington University. As the head of the ecomagination program, he was tasked with making the business case for sustainability. While many people are focused on getting individuals to change their behavior in order to move the conversation forward, it was illuminating to hear a representative of an organization with the purchasing power of General Electric talking about how fiscally invested they are in a sustainable future for their company.
In his appearance at the Summit, Vachon talked about the false choice between economics and environmental performance. During the discussion, he made the business case for making smart investments in a sustainable future. He argued that "being sustainably responsible as a company will help you grow fiscally," and that businesses who aren't changing their practices will fall behind. Once the dust settles on the discussion surrounding renewable energy, he predicted that GE would come out on the other side because of some of the work that ecomagination is doing now.
Afterwards, our camera crew caught up with him backstage and asked him to elaborate on his comments.
Through 2011, ecomagination has invested $5 billion in clean tech R&D, which has generated a staggering $106 billion in revenues for the company in return.