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Corporate Sustainability: Look Who Is Leading the Way

The Drive Toward Corporate Sustainability Increases Globally

At around 5MW, Apple’s new solar roof could make it among the biggest in the US. Photo: 9to5Mac.com.

At around 5MW, Apple’s new solar roof could make it among the biggest in the US. Photo: 9to5Mac.com.

by Hope O’Shaughnessy

As global sentiment continues to build for a more sustainable planet, corporations are increasingly adopting more sustainable business practices. The Paris Climate Agreement provided a renewed spark and metric for the transition. As global businesses continue to improve their bottom lines, tying sustainability goals to that movement has helped the momentum.

Google’s logo is spelled out in the heliostats (mirrors that reflect sunlight) at the Ivanpah solar electric generating system in the Mojave Desert near the California-Nevada border. Photo source: gadgetsnow.com.

Google’s logo is spelled out in the heliostats (mirrors that reflect sunlight) at the Ivanpah solar electric generating system in the Mojave Desert near the California-Nevada border. Photo source: gadgetsnow.com.

Two significant leaders in this transition include Apple and Google. At the start of 2017, Greenpeace heralded Apple as the top company committed to 100% renewable energy with Google and Facebook following closely behind. Apple has held this green leadership spot for three years in a row.

It makes sense that Apple tops off Greenpeace’s list of top renewable leaders. A December 2016 article in The Guardian indicated that Apple achieved 93% renewable energy in 2015. Apple did not slow down, however, and continued to grow its green energy goals beyond that. Apple has also begun insisting that its suppliers use green technology and move toward zero waste, as well. It would appear that their goals go way beyond 100% renewable. Apple is the true leader for corporate sustainability. (http://bit.ly/apple-leads)

Google will be a strong rival to Apple with its goal to use 100% renewable energy by 2017, according to a December 2016 New York Times article. The same article quoted Google’s Joe Kava, senior vice president of technical infrastructure, as saying, “We are the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world,” and “It’s good for the economy, good for business and good for our shareholders.” (http://bit.ly/renewable-google)

The Christian Science Monitor reported that many major retailers are also developing solar capacity in order to stay profitable and improve the health of the planet. A recent article said, “42 companies have installed upwards of 320 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) capacity at more than 750 locations across the U.S., according to the Solar Energy Industries Association and OilPrice.com. Walmart, Costco and Ikea are among the companies who support renewable energy and depend on solar the most.” The top ten retail giants in terms of installed solar capacity are Walmart, Costco, Kohl’s, IKEA, Macy’s, McGraw Hill, Johnson & Johnson, Staples, Inc., Campbell’s Soup, and Walgreens. (http://bit.ly/biz-leaders)

Many major retailers are making renewable energy efforts, not only for the good for the environment, but because they make good business sense. Photo courtesy of WalmartStores.com.

Many major retailers are making renewable energy efforts, not only for the good for the environment, but because they make good business sense. Photo courtesy of WalmartStores.com.

Large scale retailer Walmart is also joining the race to meet carbon goals. The Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) fifth annual Solar Means Business report indicates that Target and Walmart and Costco are among top retailers installing solar. The report says Target installed 147.5 MW and Walmart installed 145 MW. (http://bit.ly/solar-2016)

IKEA, a socially aware company for awhile, is now furthering its role as a green leader with new wind farms installations. IKEA Canada, according to Wind Power Engineering and Development (WPED), announced in February a multi-year contract with Apex Clean Energy to manage the 88 MW Wintering Hills wind farm in Alberta, Canada. This will add to IKEA’s wind resources since, according to WPED, IKEA U.S. also bought two wind farms from Apex in 2014 (the 165 MW Cameron Wind facility located in Cameron County, Texas and the 98 MW Hoopeston Wind facility located in Hoopeston, Illinois). (http://bit.ly/ikea-apex)

Finally, a January Forbes article pointed out that renewable energy will continue to draw businesses and their interests. In the Forbes piece, guest editor Micah Remley, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Software, EnerNOC, pointed out that, “…investors are continuing to push for more sustainability data from businesses, and this is for one simple reason – research continues to create a strong link between energy and sustainability performance and overall financial value.” (http://bit.ly/remley-ren)

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