Green Rankings 2011: America’s Greenest Companies (Photos)

Green Rankings: Top 10 U.S. companies
Clockwise from top left: AP Photo, Getty Images (3)

From Office Depot to Accenture, these are the most earth-friendly companies in the U.S.

In Newsweek’s 2011 Green Rankings, we cut through the green chatter and compare the actual environmental footprint, management (policies, initiatives, controversies) and transparency of the biggest companies on the planet. We partnered with two leading environmental research organizations, Trucost and Sustainalytics to conduct this study, and the methodology was developed in consultation with an advisory panel of corporate sustainability experts. The result: the most comprehensive rankings available on this subject.

Want to see how other companies fared? Check out our complete ranking of U.S. companies here. And for our global rankings, click here.

Intel Aaron M. Sprecher, Bloomberg News / Getty Images

Industry Sector: Technology Equipment
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 71.4%
Environmental Impact: 58.4%
Environmental Management: 82.8%
Transparency & Disclosure: 78.9%

In fact, the company is the largest voluntary purchaser of green energy in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. By the end of 2010, the company was able to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 40 percent. In 2011, the company purchased enough renewable-energy credits to cover 85 percent of its U.S. energy use. The resulting reduction in emissions will be equivalent to the annual energy use of more than 200,000 American homes. Additionally, the company created nine solar installations in 2010 in the U.S. and Israel, which combine to generate more than 3.8 million kWh of solar energy per year.

Adobe Paul Morris, Bloomberg News / Getty Images

Industry Sector: Information Technology & Services
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 71.5%
Environmental Impact: 79.0%
Environmental Management: 64.7%
Transparency & Disclosure: 68.5%

The company began to focus heavily on sustainability during California's 2001 energy crisis. Since 2005, Adobe has reduced (PDF) electricity use by 35 percent and natural-gas use by 41 percent. The company also composts or recycles more than 95 percent of its solid waste. Adobe was the first company to get four platinum-level certifications for energy and environmental design excellence by the U.S. Green Building Council. The company also has an Environmental Sustainability Council, made up of representatives from various departments, that recommends sustainability initiatives. Additionally, the company features a Green Team led by employees, which creates its own environmental initiatives and projects.

EMC Ronda Churchill, Bloomberg New / Getty Images

Industry Sector: Technology Equipment
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 71.6%
Environmental Impact: 66.4%
Environmental Management: 85.7%
Transparency & Disclosure: 32.1%

Recognizing that its IT services took up five data centers and wasted huge amounts of energy, EMC began its “Journey to the Cloud” to move to a virtualized IT infrastructure in 2004. In 2009, the company introduced a “Virtual Desktop Infrastructure” and all of the company’s desktops will be virtualized by 2012. These initiatives have reduced energy consumption by 34 percent and shrunk its carbon footprint by 100 million pounds of CO2. To reduce commuting, the company offers e-conferencing and the flexibility to work from home; the company also has a carpool matching service to encourage fewer drives to work. All this resulted in a 21 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions from travel since 2007. EMC’s new buildings are all being designed with energy efficiency in mind and those already built are being retrofitted. The company plans to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and hopes to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2040.

The Hartford Financial Services

Industry Sector: Financials
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 71.7%
Environmental Impact: 77.6%
Environmental Management: 68.2%
Transparency & Disclosure: 60.5%

The insurance company officially recognized  the existence of climate change in 2007, and has made serious environmental efforts since then. In 2009, the company reduced (PDF) its overall square footage by 9 percent, which cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by approximately 9 percent. The company also replaced its 2,000-car fleet with vehicles that have four-cylinder engines, which increases fuel efficiency to 26.5 miles per gallon. Hartford also has a flexible work program, which cuts down on commuting—more than 4,000 employees work remotely full time. The company’s paper-recycling program has saved 24 million kWh of electricity. For its customers, the company offers a hybrid-vehicle discount and its Green Choice program allows customers to upgrade to green initiatives after a loss.


Industry Sector: Health Care
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 71.7%
Environmental Impact: 65.2%
Environmental Management: 80.4%
Transparency & Disclosure: 62.2%

Agilent Technologies provides measurement products to various industries. In 2010, the company initiated several conservation projects that allowed for a 3.6 percent reduction in energy use from the previous year. Agilent’s solar-energy photovoltaic systems helped to reduce CO2 emissions in 2010; the solar panels generated 3.34 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. To ensure that all of their suppliers meet environmental standards, Agilent developed a code of conduct in 2004 and will not work with suppliers who violate its standards of environmental protection. The company recently introduced two greenhouse-gas analyzers that can check for multiple gases at once. The company was even involved in the monitoring of samples after the Gulf Coast oil spill.

NVIDIA PRNewsFoto / AP Photo

Industry Sector: Technology Equipment
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 71.9%
Environmental Impact: 76.0%
Environmental Management: 75.6%
Transparency & Disclosure: 36.6%

Nvidia Corp. is a California-based technology company that invented GPUs, the most energy-efficient computer processors on the market. In 2010, the company achieved a goal of diverting 76 percent of its waste from landfills. Nvidia also hired a full-time employee to make data centers more energy-efficient, as the computer farms are poised to overtake airlines as a source of greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020. The company’s newest building in Austin, Texas, features aluminum frames made from more than 25 percent recycled content, Green Guard-certified furniture, and special energy-efficient carpets.

Computer Associates

Industry Sector: Information Technology & Services
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 72.6%
Environmental Impact: 78.4%
Environmental Management: 75.2%
Transparency & Disclosure: 35.2%

CA Inc. creates and sells management software to corporations. The company’s CEO was one of the founding members of the CNBC Carbon Council. The Flexible Workplace Program allows employees to easily work from home, reducing commutes and carbon emissions; roughly 30 percent of employees work from home. The company also launched the Follow Me print-management program, which eliminates the need for cover pages when printing, and saved an estimated 16.3 million sheets of paper between April 2009 and October 2010. The company’s new $30 million building in India, achieved LEED Gold Certification and includes an on-site worm farm to recycle all non-plastic waste. In addition to being environmentally friendly in its own business activities, CA also demands that its suppliers stay sustainable, and the company screens them on a monthly basis to check that they are adhering to environmental standards. CA does offer tools to help other companies stay sustainable, in the form of software. CA’s ecoSoftware helps companies maintain sustainability. CA ecoMeter helps monitor energy use in facilities by capturing real-time data, while CA ecoGovernance helps companies measure, correct, and report their environmental impact. 

Office Depot Paul Sakuma / AP Photo

Industry Sector: Retail
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 73.6%
Environmental Impact: 65.9%
Environmental Management: 80.6%
Transparency & Disclosure: 76.6%

Back in 2005, Office Depot invested more than $20 million in energy efficiency, which resulted in a carbon-dioxide emissions reduction of more than 10 percent within one year. Constructing green buildings (PDF) is also essential to the company’s environmental strategy. In 2008, Office Depot built the first LEED Gold-certified retail store in Austin. The company’s global headquarters became the first in the industry to be awarded the LEED Gold Certification for Existing Buildings. In 2008 and 2009, the company reduced greenhouse-gas emissions in transportation by 12 percent by replacing vehicles and using sophisticated software to help arrange routes more efficiently. In terms of sales, the company works hard to promote the sale of greener products. In 2003, it introduced The Green Book, a catalog that promotes more than 2,000 of the company’s most environmentally friendly products. Office Depot’s nearest competitor did not introduce a similar catalog until 2008.

Accenture Jussi Nukari, AFP / Getty Images

Industry Sector: Information Technology & Services
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 74.0%
Environmental Impact: 78.6%
Environmental Management: 78.9%
Transparency & Disclosure: 31.6%

Accenture is a management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company, with offices in more than 200 cities around the world. Over 80 percent of the company’s carbon emissions come from office energy use and business travel. In 2009, the company reduced (PDF) its per-employee carbon footprint by 25 percent, largely by increasing employees' environmental awareness. Accenture has also made an effort to reduce nonessential business travel, using Telepresence to hold virtual conferences around the world. In the U.S., the company launched the Smart Work program, which helps employees reduce noncritical travel. In Tokyo, Accenture started a program to encourage employees to seek alternatives to taxis, resulting in a 13 percent drop in taxi use in 2009. Accenture is working with Xcel Energy to launch the world’s first “smart grid (PDF)” city in Boulder, Colorado. They are pairing the entire city’s electric grid with technology to use energy more efficiently. A reduction in electricity usage by a mere 2.5 percent would allow Xcel Energy to reduce carbon emissions by more than 1 million tons each year. In 2010, Singapore’s Energy Market Authority hired Accenture to design the first phase of its Intelligent Energy System pilot project. As a consulting firm, Accenture offers its client companies advice on how to become more sustainable as well.

Johnson & Johnson Scott Eells, Bloomberg News / Getty Images

Industry Sector: Health Care
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 74.6%
Environmental Impact: 60.8%
Environmental Management: 96.2%
Transparency & Disclosure: 39.1%

Johnson & Johnson introduced the “Healthy Future 2015” initiative, which lays out its environmental goals for the next few years. The company reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by 23 percent from 1990 to 2010. The company recently tripled its solar-energy capacity to 13 megawatts and it is one of the largest users of solar energy in the U.S. Its facility in Titusville, N.J., has the largest solar-panel setups in that state, with 13,496 solar panels providing 4.1 megawatts of electricity, which provides energy for 70 percent of the site’s annual electricity needs. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency recently named the company the seventh largest producer of renewable energy. Between 2005-2010, the company also decreased hazardous waste by 25 percent and non-hazardous waste by 12 percent.

Dell Qilai Shen, Bloomberg News / Getty Images

Industry Sector: Technology Equipment
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 74.7%
Environmental Impact: 66.4%
Environmental Management: 88.6%
Transparency & Disclosure: 49.3%

In addition to the standard efforts to stay green, Dell has taken advantage of innovations in packaging—using mushroom and bamboo packaging to wrap the products the company ships. The mushroom packaging is biodegradable and can later be used as compost or mulch. In 2010, the company even launched an initiative to track the carbon footprints of individual products in order to reduce them in the future. In manufacturing, the company aims to have a 99 percent rate of recycling and reuse by 2012 and it looks like they are on right on track—for the fiscal year of 2011, the company maintained a recycle and reuse rate of 95.7 percent. The company provides easy ways for its customers to stay green as well. Dell’s Reconnect program provides an easy way for customers to recycle old computers and products, by returning them to a Goodwill store for refurbishment, reuse, or recycling. The company says that the program has kept more than 190 million pounds of e-waste from landfills and created 250 green jobs.

Baxter Brent Lewin, Bloomberg News / Getty Images

Industry Sector: Health Care
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 74.9%
Environmental Impact: 60.4%
Environmental Management: 88.7%
Transparency & Disclosure: 78.3%

Illinois-based Baxter International makes products  for treatment of hemophilia, immune disorders, and other chronic diseases. In 2010, the company made vast strides in terms of meeting its environmental goals. It reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by 7 percent, or 29 percent when indexed to revenue. Additionally, its energy use increased by just 4 percent from 2005, despite the fact that sales increased by 30 percent in the same timeframe. Baxter also reduced its total waste indexed to revenue by 30 percent.

Sprint Nextel Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Industry Sector: Telecommunications
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 75.6%
Environmental Impact: 71.5%
Environmental Management: 81.5%
Transparency & Disclosure: 68.0%

After an internal review in 2007, Sprint realized that it was a long way from being as environmentally responsible as it could be; it was especially lacking in eco-friendly products. In 2009, the company launched its first environmentally responsible device, the Samsung Reclaim cellphone. By 2011, Sprint had launched four such products, and it was the first U.S. carrier to sell more than one eco-friendly device. The company has also developed an “eco-logo” to help consumers identify environmentally preferable devices. In terms of product manufacturing, Sprint’s environmental management system focuses on reducing emissions to air and releases to water and land. The company has set several ambitious environmental goals to achieve by 2017, including a 90 percent phone-collection rate for reuse and recycling, 15 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions, and a 15 percent decrease in electric energy use. In 2010, Sprint reduced its greenhouse-gas emissions (PDF) by 7.32 percent from 2007.

Hewlett Packard Noah Berger, Bloomberg News / Getty Images

Industry Sector: Technology Equipment
NEWSWEEK Green Score: 75.8%
Environmental Impact: 66.7%
Environmental Management: 87.6%
Transparency & Disclosure: 63.7%

Hewlett-Packard has a strict environment, health, and safety management system, and it requires newly acquired companies implement the same rules during their integration process. In 2009, HP launched the Global Workplace Initiative to make the company’s facilities more sustainable and reduce the company’s environmental impact. Most of its building projects are overseen by the H-P Global Design Center; sustainable-design features include renewable building materials, and efficient lighting and water systems. Many of the company’s buildings have been LEED-certified. In order to reduce emissions, the company is also replacing chlorofluorocarbons in its air-conditioning systems with hydrofluorocarbons, which are greenhouse gases that do not deplete the ozone layer. H-P sets yearly environmental goals to improve sustainability. In 2010, H-P removed all mercury from its notebooks. The company promised to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 40 percent below 2005 levels by the end of 2011, a goal which it reached nine months in ahead of its deadline.

IBM Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Industry Sector: Information Technology & Services
NEWSWEEK Green Score
: 82.5%
Environmental Impact: 78.8%
Environmental Management: 86.2%
Transparency & Disclosure: 83.0%

IBM has long been committed to environmental responsibility. The company employs roughly 426,750 people and had about $99.9 billion in revenue in 2010. In 1971, IBM formalized (PDF) a policy that was designed to put the company on the environmental forefront in all of its business activities. And in the intervening 40 years, many of the company’s; initiatives have truly been ahead of their time. For instance, IBM developed requirements (PDF) for secondary containment for underground storage tanks in 1979, while the EPA waited until 1985 to create the Office of Underground Storage Tanks, which was designed to develop regulatory programs for such tanks. The company has also been forward-thinking in terms of environmental disclosure. IBM released its first “IBM and the Environment” report in 1990, a full 10 years before the Global Reporting Initiative released its guidelines for environmental reporting. More recently, IBM established rules that all of its suppliers develop and sustain a corporate-responsibility and environmental-management system, and disclose their performance. In 2010, it became the first company to qualify four-socket servers for Energy Star requirements for servers—perhaps not surprising, as it was the charter member of Energy Star in the early 1990s.