Much has been made about the importance of companies switching to green energy and adopting more environmentally friendly business practices and, while we're definitely not there yet, there are a number of large international companies based in North America that are finally beginning to lead the charge.
In fact, a growing portion of Fortune 500 companies are quickly realizing the many benefits of green energy and putting plans in place to better take advantage of these clean energy sources.
Nonetheless, when it comes to determining which North American companies are the most eco-friendly it can start to become quite cloudy, as there are many different factors to take into account. Furthermore, many of these variables—such as waste production—are almost impossible to quantify, simply because businesses aren't required to keep a record of such things.
Top Companies in North America Going Green
So when it comes to determining the five greenest companies in North America, the only accurate measurement comes from the 2014 US Environmental Protection Agency's list of the companies which use the most green energy. However, the EPA's list is based solely on the amount (kilowatt hours) of renewable energy used, meaning companies like Wal-Mart are able to rank in the top 5, despite only 4% of their energy coming from renewable sources.
For this reason, we've decided to take the top 25 companies from that EPA list and sort them based on the actual percentage of their energy usage that comes from green power in order to come up with our choice for the top five greenest companies in North America.
1) Whole Foods Market (107% of 800 million kilowatt hours)
While Whole Foods only ranks #4 on the EPA list, we've put them as #1, as 107% of the power they use comes from renewable sources—meaning they actually produce more energy than they use. Their green energy comes mainly from wind and solar generators, a large portion of which they produce on site.
2) Staples (106% of 636 million kw/h)
Staples ranks just below Whole Foods with 106% of their energy coming from green sources, mainly biogas, wind and solar energy. Still, unlike Whole Foods, Staples spreads their energy sources around, contracting with no less than 8 different companies to buy renewable energy in addition to generating it onsite through solar panels and wind turbines.
3) Kohl's Department Store (105% of 1.536 billion kw/h)
Kohl's is the last of the major North American companies to produce more renewable energy than they use. In addition, they’re also number 3 in total green energy usage and the only company on the list which achieves this goal through only one source—solar power.
4) Intel (100% of 3.1 billion kw/h)
Intel ranks #1 in North America in green energy consumption—using 1.2 billion kilowatt hours more renewable power than their closest competitor; nonetheless, they only come in at number four on our list, as they don't produce any more energy than they consume.
5) T.D. Bank, Inc. (100% of 269 million kw/h)
Although T.D. Bank only ranks in 22nd place on the EPA list, they are also only one of 8 of the top 25 to achieve at least 100% green energy usage. For this reason, they fully deserve a spot on this list, as the other three "companies" to use only renewable energy are government agencies—with the US Environmental Protection Agency coming in at 107%, and both the City of Austin, TX and the District of Columbia at 100%.