Megatrends: The power behind Eaton's global green growth

Cleveland has been a major manufacturing hub since John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil there in 1870, but the decline in domestic production has left the region's economy on shaky ground.

Yet, just as the infamous fire on the city's Cuyahoga River helped establish the Clean Water Act and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the negligence of suppliers in developing nations is inadvertently giving American manufacturing a second chance. In fact, a growing taste for "Made in the USA" products, coupled with the sustainable reincarnation of Eaton Corp., one of Cleveland's largest companies, has the potential to spark a green renaissance in the Rust Belt.

Eaton Corp. (NYSE: ETN), a $21.8 billion global diversified power management company, may not enjoy the name recognition of consumer brands, but it wields considerable international influence. A leader in electrical products, systems for power distribution, and hydraulics and aerospace equipment, Eaton employs 103,000 people around the world and sells its products in more than 175 countries. If you have entered a building, boarded an aircraft, operated machinery or driven a car or truck, chances are you are among the half of the world's citizens who benefit from Eaton's technology.

Although the 99-year-old company first moved its home base to Cleveland in 1914, Eaton relocated its global headquarters to Dublin, Ireland, in 2012 following its acquisition of Cooper Industries. But the global powerhouse remains true it its roots. Eaton has more than 1,000 Northeast Ohio suppliers that meet the needs of the company and its various businesses. In 2012, Eaton purchased $275 million in goods and services from statewide suppliers, totaling nearly $550 million. Preparing for more growth locally, the company recently moved into a 600,000-square-foot campus on a 53-acre site in Chagrin Highlands, east of downtown Cleveland.

Situated on Cuyahoga County's second-highest elevation point at 1,255 feet above sea level, the 10-story tower is exceptionally prominent. Consistent with Eaton's commitment to sustainability, the new building was designed to consume 40 percent less energy and 40 percent less water than a conventional building of smaller scale. The rainwater reuse system is expected to significantly cut water consumption, and a high-efficiency glass-curtain wall system maximizes the use of daylight while optimizing thermal comfort within interior spaces. Eaton Center eventually will accommodate more than 1,000 of the 1,800 Cleveland-area employees, and is expected to earn its LEED certification within the next few months.

The company is focused on energy, which CEO Sandy Cutler calls a megatrend.  

"One of the biggest that affects us and our customers is the ever-increasing cost of energy," Cutler told Eaton World. "Our focus on this megatrend brings drive and urgency to our work as we develop innovations that help our customers find ways to use power more efficiently, reliably, safely and sustainably."

Image courtesy of Eaton.

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