Newsweek has released its annual “Green Rankings”, revealing the most sustainable companies both in the US and around the world. And although public support for the green economy has waned recently with Obama reneging on many of his green promises, the private sector continues to march ahead in sustainability, with some companies truly establishing themselves as leaders in the global green economy.
On the US list, IBM took over the number 1 spot, up from its third place finish last year. IBM’s continued placement at the top of the list should come as no surprises, given its long history in sustainable business initiatives. It has been measuring, managing, and voluntarily publishing its environmental impacts for close to 20 years, and claims to have conserved 5.4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity over that time, thus reducing its carbon emissions and saving the company $400 million.
Other shifts on the list included Sprint, which moved up to third place from sixth, and Dell, which moved to fifth place from third place. Hewlett-Packard remained in third place.
But a closer analysis at the global list of the top 500 green companies reveals some interesting trends.
For instance, companies in finance and technology dominated the top of the list. This makes sense given their low environmental impact compared to other companies (such as utilities). In first place was global reinsurance company Munich Re.
However, it should be noted that just because a company is a financial firm doesn’t mean it automatically gains entry into the upper echelons of the Green Rankings. This year, Newsweek considered the investment portfolios of these companies, and assigned lower ratings to firms that invested in environmentally-damaging companies.
Comparing the US list with the global list also revealed some interesting linkages.
In particular, US companies significantly lagged behind companies from other countries. Although IBM achieved the number 2 spot on the world’s greenest companies, the next US company to show up on the list was Hewlett-Packard in position 12. In contrast, European companies had a much stronger showing, due to Europe’s tighter regulatory environment.