Renewable energy is defined as energy sources with the highest environmental benefits: solar, wind, geothermal, bio-gas, some biomass, and low-impact small hydro. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) release a quarterly national ‘Top 100’ list to represent the greenest renewable energy organizations in the US. The combined green power usage of these organizations equals almost thirty billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually.
The rankings are listed in order of annual power usage in kWh, though rankings can also indicate how effectively organizations have brought renewable energy into their usage profile and whether they’ve taken further steps to generate their own renewable energy power.
The greenest organizations
Two of the greenest organizations are Intel and Microsoft, who together consume almost 6 billion kWh annually, getting all their electricity from renewable sources. Kohl’s Department Stores, Cisco Systems and Google round out the top five, with Kohl producing 109 percent of their total electricity use.
Of the top 100 organizations, thirty-six are also getting one-hundred percent of their corporate operations energy requirements from renewable resources and of these, seventeen are selling the excess. This is more than double the April 2013 figures and now include Apple and Starbucks. Seventeen of those companies exceed. PwC produce one-hundred and forty-two percent of their annual energy requirement (one-hundred and sixty million kWh) from wind power.
Organizations with room for improvement
Walmart obtains just 4 percent of its overall energy from renewable sources, the same percent as 2013, but have reduced their corporate energy requirements by seventy-five thousand kWh in the same period. Others in the list of top consumers that have room for improvement are Kaiser Permanente (8 percent), Samsung (8 percent), US. General Services Administration (10 percent), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (13 percent), Citi (13 percent), The City University of New York (13 percent) and probably most surprising the US. Department of Energy that obtains just 15 percent of total electricity use from renewable sources.
Reducing energy requirements
Another sorting of the EPA data shows thirteen companies, organizations, and municipalities consumed more than six million kWh annually, down from twenty in 2013. On average 82% of the energy came from renewable sources. The list includes the top five corporations a plus Starbucks, Apple, Wal-Mart, Mars, the Cities of Houston and Dallas and the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Energy.
Just over half the organizations produce renewable energies on-site and most have signed long-term contracts to purchase green power.
Not appearing on the EPA’s list in 2013 was top furniture retailer Ikea, long a renewable energy advocate. However, its commitment at that time to doubling its renewable energy investments to $4 billion by 2020, and achieve one-hundred percent of energy consumption from renewable sources for its stores as well as subcontractors has shown remarkable results. By investing in solar energy mainly in the US. renewable energies provide seventy-two percent of their energy consumption, double their 2013 figures.
Smaller energy consumer organizations
The EPA rankings relate to those with the highest usage of energy. Thousands of smaller businesses and individuals who have embraced renewable energy are not included or recognized even if their commitment shows them to be the greenest organizations with an excess of renewable energy they can sell on.
While some corporations put tangible value on environmental stewardship, and maybe even the PR of recognition for doing so, there’s a bigger reason they are embracing renewable energy, it makes good financial sense. The EPA now allows large corporations to extend their investments into energy procurement, or local permitting and siting for an on-site generation project.