Greenest Tech Companies in the World: Google, IBM, Apple, More (Photos)

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From Google to IBM, the most earth-friendly technology companies in the world.

Tech companies—both software and hardware makers—topped Newsweek’s Green Rankings this year. In part, that’s because the industry is inherently low-impact, compared with, say, utilities. A green ethos is baked into the culture of many tech firms, and these companies compete on their sustainability measures—greening their operations and their products.

To compile the ranking of the greenest companies in tech, we filtered Newsweek’s 2011 Green Rankings—a list designed to cut through the green chatter—and compared the 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.

Plus, see the full global ranking of all 500 companies.

 

green-rankings-global-tech-google Keith Bedford, Bloomberg / Getty Images

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 65.2%
Environmental Impact: 73.7%
Environmental Management:
66.5%
Transparency & Disclosure:
20.8%

Google has been completely carbon neutral since 2007—the same year the company installed the world’s largest corporate photovoltaic system at its Mountain View, Calif., campus. The company’s data centers are some of the world’s most efficient, requiring 50 percent less energy than average facilities. The centers are kept at a temperature of 80 degrees to reduce energy needs, and the company uses “free cooling” to remove heat from the center. Google claims that because of these steps, the carbon emissions from 1,050 Google searches are equivalent to those released by a glass of orange juice.

JAPAN CEATECH Tomohiro Ohsumi, Bloomberg / Getty Images

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 63.9%
Environmental Impact: 53.9%
Environmental Management:
74.9%
Transparency & Disclosure:
60.1%

The Kyocera Corporation introduced an Environmental Accounting System in 2003, and followed up with quarterly data collection and updates starting in 2005. The company evaluates its products using the “Environmental Consciousness Evaluation System” to ensure they are made eco-friendly. Notably, the company has developed a Solar Cell Module that can be fitted onto cars to generate electricity to power the air-conditioning.

green-rankings-global-tech-canon Toshiyuki Aizawa, Reuters / Corbis

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 64.5%
Environmental Impact: 58.6%
Environmental Management:
73.5%
Transparency & Disclosure:
51.0%

Canon’s energy-efficient, multifunction devices are estimated to have saved 11,000,000 tons of CO2 around the world between 2003 and 2010. Canon also takes recycling of its products seriously and has focused on remanufacturing products since 1992. In Japan, Canon introduced the “Refreshed” brand of remanufactured products, which are made from 84 percent reused parts. There are zero CO2 emissions released from these products during the manufacturing stage.

green-rankings-global-tech-apple Dylan Martinez, Reuters / Corbis

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 64.7%
Environmental Impact: 66.7%
Environmental Management:
71.0%
Transparency & Disclosure:
28.0%

Apple’s products make up 98 percent of its carbon footprint, as its buildings account for just 2 percent. Every product Apple sells exceeds the guidelines for Energy Star specifications—an achievement that no other company in the industry can claim. Additionally, despite Apple’s phenomenal growth (revenue has grown 74 percent since 2008) the company’s greenhouse-gas emissions grew 57 percent. Apple also offers recycling programs in 95 percent of all countries where its products are sold, and in 2010 it received a recycling rate of 66.4 percent, well ahead of its 50 percent goal.

green-rankings-global-tech-oracle onica M. Davey, EPA / Corbis

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 65.2%
Environmental Impact: 73.7%
Environmental Management:
66.5%
Transparency & Disclosure:
20.8%

Oracle has successfully reduced energy use in its operations around the world. At its headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif., Oracle has shrunk electricity use by 31 percent in the last 10 years. The company’s data center in Austin has power and cooling distribution systems that run with 60 percent lower energy levels than the industry average. Its new building in Hyderabad, India, received LEED-NC silver certification.

green-rankings-global-tech-xerox James Leynse / Corbis

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 65.4%
Environmental Impact: 55.4%
Environmental Management:
74.5%
Transparency & Disclosure:
69.6%

Between 2002 and 2009, Xerox reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by 31 percent. The company has also started combining single-function products into multifunction systems, which help customers reduce their energy use by 50 percent. It’s on the forefront of developing new technologies like Emulsion Aggregation toner, but its green legacy is long. Of note: Xerox invented two-sided printing years ago.

42-24521852 Paulo Fridman / Corbis

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 67.1%
Environmental Impact: 55.9%
Environmental Management:
83.6%
Transparency & Disclosure:
43.4%

Fujifilm seeks to reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent by 2020. It hopes to accomplish this by using new technologies, which can help reduce emissions at any stage of the product lifecycle. Rather than simply concentrate on reducing its carbon footprint, in 2010 the company added “biodiversity conservation” to its list of design criteria for all of its products.

green-rankings-global-tech-microsot Georgina Bowater / Corbis

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 67.6%
Environmental Impact: 76.6%
Environmental Management: 67.2%
Transparency & Disclosure:
28.9%

By 2012, Microsoft plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent compared to 2007 levels, designing its newest data centers to use only half the energy of those that were being built even three years ago. On the company’s Seattle campus, a shuttle service drives employees to and from work every day, saving 10 million driving miles each year.

TSMC EARNINGS Maurice Tsai, Bloomberg / Getty Images

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 68.1%
Environmental Impact: 53.4%
Environmental Management:
76.8%
Transparency & Disclosure:
95.1%

TSMC launched a “Green Fab Program” to improve energy efficiency in its building, and expanded it to a “green building” program one year later. Under this program, two of its factories won LEED certification in 2008 and 2009. TSMC also takes its recycling programs very seriously—it has achieved a waste-recycling rate of 90 percent and a landfill rate of less than 1 percent.

green-rankings-global-tech-cisco Moinca M. Davey, EPA / Corbis

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 68.4%

Environmental Impact: 65.9%

Environmental Management: 77.0%

Transparency & Disclosure: 40.8%

Cisco has come up with a number of solutions to cut down on emissions from transportation and commuting. Cisco Virtual Office offers full IP phone, wireless, data, and video services, providing more than 16,000 employees the opportunity to work from anywhere. This translates to roughly 19,000 metric tons of CO2 saved every year. Additionally, Cisco TelePresence offers high-quality sound and video for virtual conferences, which helps curtail emissions from energy use. In 2009, Cisco purchased 37 percent of its electricity globally from renewable energy sources.

green-rankings-global-tech-hitachi Everett Kennedy Brown, EPA / Corbis

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 70.3%
Environmental Impact: 56.2%
Environmental Management:
84.1%
Transparency & Disclosure:
71.6%

Hitachi’s “Environmental Vision 2025” aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 100 million tons by 2025. The company also has a series of “Eco-products” that must meet eight assessments to qualify as environmentally friendly. The company has “Super Eco-Factories”—complexes that are designed with specific environmental goals in mind.

green-rankings-global-tech-motarola Miao Yifan, Imaginechina / Corbis

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 70.7%
Environmental Impact: 64.1%
Environmental Management:
83.9%
Transparency & Disclosure:
40.7%

Motorola’s desire to cut energy use in preparation for rising energy prices and expected energy regulations has led the company to reduce its carbon footprint by 45 percent since 2005 and reduce its energy use by 28 percent since 2005. In 2010, 23 percent of all electricity the company purchased worldwide was from renewable energy sources.

green-rankings-tech-cognizant-tech Suvashis Mullick, The India Today Group / Getty Images

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 70.9%
Environmental Impact: 80.1%
Environmental Management:
63.7%
Transparency & Disclosure:
62.2%

Cognizant’s “Go Green” initiative has helped the company to achieve many environmental milestones. For one, the company now has two LEED Silver-rated data centers. Additionally, PC Power Management was installed on 50,000 desktops, which saved 22,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

green-rankings-global-tech-ericsson Pontus Lundahl, EPA / Corbis

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 71.1%
Environmental Impact: 67.5%
Environmental Management:
70.3%
Transparency & Disclosure:
91.5%

Ericsson is a board member of the Global e-Sustainability Initiative and has set a goal to help reduce global emissions by 15 percent by 2020. The most significant emissions come from shipping and distribution of products, so the company hopes to ship 70 percent of its products by surface transport in 2011.The company also plans to increase its use of green energy. It currently holds a 60 percent share of Green Electrical Power in Europe.

green-rankings-global-tech-nec Everett Kennedy Brown, EPA / Corbis

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 71.3%
Environmental Impact: 68.0%
Environmental Management:
73.8%
Transparency & Disclosure:
74.8%

In 2010, NEC initiated the “NEC Group Environmental Management Action Plan 2017/2030,” which was made up of initiatives like the “entirely eco-friendly office.” Such initiatives allowed the company to reduce CO2 emissions by 2.12 million tons during the 2011 fiscal year. The company has also developed a bioplastic from cellulose and cardanol—the first bioplastic in the world that has achieved a stable supply—which it will soon start to use in the manufacture of its products.

Intel Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 71.4%
Environmental Impact: 58.4%
Environmental Management:
82.8%
Transparency & Disclosure:
78.9%

Intel Corporation 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 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.

EMC Matt Peyton / AP Photo

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 100 percent of the company’s desktops will be virtualized by 2012. These initiatives have reduced energy consumption by 34 percent and cut the 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.

Alcatel-Lucent Bloomberg / Getty Images

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 72.4%
Environmental Impact: 66.6%
Environmental Management:
77.3%
Transparency & Disclosure:
76.7%

The French telecommunications company plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 50 percent of 2008 levels by 2020. Since 2008 the company has reduced its footprint by 12.6 percent. As well, two of the company’s largest facilities now use 100 percent renewable energy. Recognizing that communications technology makes up 2 percent of global carbon emissions, Alcatel-Laurent is also part of the GreenTouch initiative, which is designed to make wireless networks 1,000 times more energy-efficient.

Wipro Ltd. AP Photo

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 73.4%
Environmental Impact: 67.6%
Environmental Management:
81.2%
Transparency & Disclosure:
64.4%

Wipro is a global IT hardware and services company that has made a serious effort to reduce waste. In 2010, 79 percent of its waste was recycled, according to conservative estimates. Wipro’s paper-recycling plant in Bangalore recycled 20 tons of waste paper into notepads, avoiding the use of 50 tons of timber. The company has two operational biogas plants that can convert food waste to cooking fuel, saving 100 tons of greenhouse-gas emissions. During 2010, Wipro’s sustainability initiatives reduced greenhouse-gas emissions by 34,000 metric tons from the previous year.

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. More than 80 percent of the company’s carbon emissions come from office energy use and business travel. In 2009, the company reduced its per-employee carbon footprint by 25 percent, largely by increasing employee environmental awareness. Accenture also has made an effort to reduce nonessential business travel, using TelePresence to hold virtual conferencing around the world. In the United States, the company launched the Smart Work program, which helps employees reduce noncritical travel. Accenture is working with Xcel Energy to launch the world’s first “smart grid” city in Boulder, Colo. They are pairing the entire city’s electric grid with intelligent 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.

Accenture Jussi Nukari, AFP / Getty Images

Toshiba Sean Gallup / Getty Images

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 74.2%
Environmental Impact: 58.0%
Environmental Management: 89.3%
Transparency & Disclosure: 79.2%

Toshiba estimates that its new “Greening by Products” and “Greening by Technology” products being developed will reduce CO2 emissions by 750 million tons by 2020. The company also has reached 410 percent year-on-year growth in recycling ink cartridges and printing products. Toshiba has partnered with Close the Loop Inc. to use the recycled products to create “eLumber,” a composite material. Although the company’s offices and factories release large amounts of greenhouse-gas emissions, it is making serious efforts to cut back. A new factory being constructed at the Yokkaichi Operations (PDF) site is expected to release 12 percent fewer emissions than its existing factories.

Dell Qilai Shen, Bloomberg News / Getty Images

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 it ships. The mushroom packaging is biodegradable and can later be used as compost or mulch. In 2010, the company 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 it is on track—for fiscal year 2011, the company maintained a recycle and reuse rate of 95.7 percent. The company provides easy ways for its customers to stay green: 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 the program has kept more than 190 million pounds of e-waste out of landfills and created 250 green jobs.

Samsung Jin Sung-chul, Yonhap / AP Photo

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 75.1%
Environmental Impact: 57.9%
Environmental Management: 88.2%
Transparency & Disclosure: 93.3%

Samsung buys electricity from renewable-energy sources in North America, and in 2010, these purchases amounted to 0.1 percent of the total global electricity purchased. The company’s North American Quality Assurance Laboratory installed a photovoltaic power-generation system that will generate 700,000 kWh of electricity, and will be able to generate up to 80 percent of the facility’s annual power consumption. Samsung launched its Eco-Design Assessment System in 2004, which makes sure that the company’s products meet eco-friendly design standards. The company expanded this concept with an eco-rating system in 2009, with a goal of having every product receive a rating of “Good Eco-Product” by 2013.

Nokia Bloomberg / Getty Images

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 75.1%
Environmental Impact: 67.4%
Environmental Management: 79.5%
Transparency & Disclosure: 90.2%

While the company has been buying renewable electricity since 2006, the company built its first renewable-energy installations—fuel cells in Sunnyvale, Calif., and a biofuel station in Chennai, India—in 2011. In 2010, the company introduced many new environment-friendly devices like the Nokia C6-01, which was the first phone in the industry to be made using recycled metals. That same year, the company reduced CO2 emissions by 18 percent. In order to encourage customers to recycle their old devices, the company has more than 6,000 recycling points around the world.

SAP AG AP Photo

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 75.2%
Environmental Impact: 79.6%
Environmental Management: 69.1%
Transparency & Disclosure: 82.4%

SAP offers business-software applications to corporations. The company wants to return emissions to their 2000 levels by 2020, without interfering with profitability. In 2010, the company managed to reduce overall emissions by 6 percent and emissions per employee by 8 percent, despite increasing revenue by 17 percent the same year. Additionally, a full 48 percent of the company’s electricity now comes from renewable energy sources including solar, wind, hydro, and biomass.

HP Bloomberg / Getty Images

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 75.8%
Environmental Impact: 66.7%
Environmental Management: 87.6%
Transparency & Disclosure: 63.7%

Hewlett-Packard has a very strict EHS management system, and it requires newly acquired companies implement the same system 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, HP 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 it reached nine months before its deadline.

Fujitsu Toru Yamanaka / Getty Images

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 76.1%
Environmental Impact: 67.5%
Environmental Management: 81.5%
Transparency & Disclosure: 91.2%

“Operating in harmony with nature,” has been one of Fujitsu’s major goals since the company’s founding in 1935. It set forth its Commitment to the Environment in 1992, and created a number of successful environmental initiatives since then. The company’s Green Factory and Green Office systems, introduced in 2007, allowed 371 of the company’s sites to achieve zero emissions for waste, which is more than any other company in Japan.

Infosys Jagadeesh NV, EPA / Landov

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 77.3%
Environmental Impact: 75.3%
Environmental Management: 81.8%
Transparency & Disclosure: 66.0%

Infosys is a London-based investment holding company that strives to use renewable energy sources. It is one of the biggest consumers of solar energy in India, and the company is testing the effectiveness of wind power to help meet its energy needs. For every new employee hired at Infosys, the company plants a sapling in order to help replenish natural resources. At some of its “Development Centers,” the company has bio-gas chambers, which generate energy from organic waste, while non-organic waste is recycled. The company’s environmental programs have combined to reduce its energy consumption, water consumption, and carbon footprint by 5 percent.

Tata Lindsey Parnaby, EPA / Landov

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 79.1%
Environmental Impact: 73.3%
Environmental Management: 81.8%
Transparency & Disclosure: 93.2%

All new buildings (PDF) are being designed to national and international standards, like LEED Green Buildings (three of its buildings are already LEED-certified). In order to dispose of waste, 16 of Tata’s facilities have started composting, while others have bio-digesters, which can turn waste into methane fuel for the kitchens. In 2010, Tata reduced its carbon footprint by 14 percent, reduced paper consumption by 34 percent, and increased waste conversion to manure by 60 percent. The company also places a heavy emphasis on employee participation in environmental initiatives, and between 2009 and 2010, 100,000 employees participated in sustainability training.

IBM Sean Gallup / Getty Images

NEWSWEEK Green Score: 82.5%
Environmental Impact: 78.8%
Environmental Management: 86.2%
Transparency & Disclosure: 83.0%

In 1971, IBM formalized (PDF) a corporate environmental policy designed to make the company an environmental leader in all of its business activities. In the intervening 40 years, many of the company’s environmental initiatives have truly been ahead of their time. 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. More recently, IBM established rules requiring its suppliers to develop and sustain a corporate responsibility and environmental management system, and disclose performance.

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