Technology companies placed in four of the top five spots in Newsweek’s survey of the greenest top 500 corporations in the United States.
That’s great news, though a few of the top green dogs may be no surprise: Hewlett-Packard and Dell, ranked number one and two, respectively, have had strong environmental and recycling policies in place for years.
Some of the other rankings in the survey may surprise you. Microsoft beat out Apple, and Yahoo topped Google.
AT&T and Apple failed to break into the top 100, while companies like Comcast, Electronic Arts, McAfee, DirecTV Group and DISH Network ranked very low on Newsweek’s green scale.
“For more than a year, Newsweek worked with leading environmental researchers KLD Research & Analytics, Trucost, and CorporateRegister.com to rank the 500 largest U.S. companies based on their actual environmental performance, policies, and reputation,” says the magazine.
“More than half of companies’ overall Green Scores are based on their environmental policies and reputation, industry-neutral metrics that help even the playing field for companies in carbon-intensive businesses.” It should also be noted that some companies did not voluntarily provide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data.
Just by scanning the reports on companies, it’s obvious that a lot more work on being green needs to be done. Many companies have emissions and other sustainability goals that still need to be met. Once the rankings approach the 20s, caveats and other problems in the companies’ green plans are apparent.
Here’s how the tech companies fared, with some explanations from the Newsweek report:
1. Hewlett–Packard — The first major IT company to report GHG emissions associated with its supply chain. Has made an effort to remove toxic substances from its products.
2. Dell — Headquarters uses 100 percent renewable energy. All its desktop and laptop computers will consume up to 25 percent less energy by 2010. Leads the industry with its product take-back and recycling programs.
4. Intel — Largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the U.S. Aim is to reduce energy consumption of its chips while increasing their speed.
5. IBM — All new employees undergo environmental awareness training. Spending $1 billion a year to double the capacity of data centers by 2010 without increasing their power consumption.
12. Cisco Systems — 80 percent of the energy used by the company’s European operations was renewable. In the U.S., renewable energy accounted for about 32 percent of the company’s power.
15. Sprint Nextel — First U.S.-based wireless telecom company to announce an absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target. Strong recycling program.
17. Advanced Micro Devices — Goal is to reduce GHG emissions by 40 percent. In 2009, debuted halogen-free products and plans to introduce lead-free products.
21. Motorola — Encourages suppliers to provide energy efficient and easily recyclable products with low or no hazardous content.
23. Texas Instruments — Has implemented 159 energy, water, and other efficiency projects and avoided 32,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
31. Microsoft — New version of Windows designed to use less energy than its predecessor; also offers products to help customers measure and reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.
48. First Solar — Carved new niche in solar industry with non-silicon-based solar cells. Also plans to recycle its solar panels at the end of their life.
49. Virgin Media — Initiatives include increasing the energy efficiency of certain products, creating a green transportation plan, and decreasing the carbon footprint of its buildings.
61. Best Buy — A leader among retailers in implementing programs to take back and recycle electronics. New green building programs will help reduce GHG emissions (8 percent per square foot) at all stores, a company goal.
69. Yahoo — Claims to have been carbon neutral since 2007. Goal is to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent by 2010.
79. Google — Heavily promoting sources of renewable energy and use of electric vehicles; also purchases offsets. Does not yet report its GHG emissions, however.
Other rankings include: Verizon (101), Symantec (114), AT&T (126), Amazon.com (131), Apple (133), Radio Shack (166), Qualcomm (182), Oracle (186), Analog Devices (247), Qwest Communications (307) Comcast (321), Juniper Networks (334), Broadcomm (376), Electronic Arts (381), McAfee (467), DirecTV Group (469), DISH Network (473).
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates