Environmental sustainability is one major facet of an integrated workplace in which some of the largest companies in the world have, in one way or another, started making some real strides.
Going green at this level is, unfortunately, sometimes seen as nothing more than a PR effort to generate some good will.
However, these five companies in the Fortune 500 have made the kind of investments in green energy and sustainability that can make a real difference.
1. Intel Corporation
Intel Corporation, the company that produces the technologies and products that drive a lot of computer innovations, ranks number one on the EPA’s Fortune 500 Green Power Partnership list.
Intel fit easily into this position because it currently purchases 2.5 billion kilowatt-hours a year in renewable energy certificates generated from wind, solar, geothermal and other sources.
The company has even begun trying out some on-site solar programs in various facilities around the country.
What does this mean in real numbers? It has been estimated that these purchases have the same impact on the environment as removing 340,000 cars off the road each year.
2. Kohl’s Department Stores
Kohl’s Department Stores received the Green Power Leadership Award in 2007 and 2008, and was recognized by the EPA as Partner of the Year in ‘09, ‘10, and ‘11.
The company has been working with the EPA to integrate environmentally sustainable processes into every aspect of their business.
Their current goals involve creating sustainable operations policies and supply chains, and they are focused strongly on long-term investments and growth.
Starbucks realized that energy usage accounts for 80% of its directly controlled carbon emissions, and so the company chose to do something about it.
Starbucks instituted some new policies based on analyzing its processes and optimizing the use of various resources, and it earned the company the Green Power Leadership Award in 2005 and 2007, and it was named Partner of the Year in 2006.
The company is actively supporting the development of the green power market, and purchasing renewable energy certificates to cover 50% or more of their global electricity use. The goal is to have 100% covered by 2015.
Staples has recently become the example of exactly how a company can change to meet environmental demands. Between 2001 and 2011, Staples made a number of investments that directly led to a 66% reduction of its carbon emissions.
They were also recognized as an ENERGY STAR Leader for producing an 11.3% reduction in its energy intensity across its entire portfolio. Most recently, the company has been purchasing both RECs and direct renewable power.
Add to that the 36 on-site solar installations and the company has earned the numerous awards it has received from ENERGY STAR and the EPA.
McDonalds may have developed a reputation for being a little less than a healthy choice for your meals, as a global corporation it has made some serious strides in sustainability and green power.
Currently, McDonalds has made a national commitment to match 30% of its electricity use at company-owned restaurants in 2011 and 2012 with renewable energy certificates from wind sources in the U.S.
This push for better energy usage also happens at the restaurant level, and a variety of efficiency initiatives and other innovations have significantly reduced the restaurants’ power consumption.