The corporate community is leading the green energy economy. Today, nearly 1,300 organizations are partnering with the US Environmental Protection Agency to either generate or buy green energy. The result, according to EPA: lowering carbon emissions and greater brand equity, making the proposition a win-win scenario.
“By using green, an organization not only can dramatically reduce its carbon footprint but it may be able to save money, stand out from competitors, and meet corporate environmental goals, which is of growing importance to stakeholder groups such as customers, Wall Street analysts, shareholders and employees,” says EPA.
Some of the leaders: Intel, Kohl’s Department Stores, Whole Foods Market, the city of Houston and Dell.
Take Kohl’s: It is one the world’s largest retail solar hosts, says EPA, with solar panels that are placed in stores in not just on the West Coast in California but also on the East Coast in New Jersey and Connecticut. Wisconsin is another key location. Much of that is through power purchase arrangements, where a third party generates the electricity that is bought over a period of years by Kohl’s. That gives the developer a guaranteed income stream while it allows the retailer to keep its prices in check.
Wal-Mart is another big box retailer that is active in the green market. It is purchasing wind power from a Duke Energy wind farm in Texas, which supplies the retailer with 15% of its electricity needs in that state alone. Nationally, Wal-Mart says that it gets 25% of its energy from renewables and that it has a goal of 100%.
And according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Wal-Mart and Target are the two biggest installers of solar power in the nation. They have installed 145 megawatts and 147 megawatts, respectively, it adds.
“Solar plays a vital role within our renewable energy portfolio,” said Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart. “This is evident by our 2020 commitment of doubling solar energy projects at our Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution centers across the nation. Our focus is on finding those solar projects that are right for the business. Being recognized by the SEIA for our efforts is confirmation that we are moving in the right direction with regards to renewable energy, specifically solar.”
“At Target, sustainability is a principle that drives the decisions we make across the company – from the products we make to the way we run our business,” adds John Leisen, vice president of property management at Target. “We’re incredibly proud of the progress we’ve made in improving building efficiencies and reducing environmental impact. Our commitment to installing solar panels on 500 stores and distribution centers by 2020 is evidence of that progress.”
More than 860 utilities offer green power programs to their customers, says the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. That is giving more than half of the electricity customers nationwide the option to buy renewable energy from a provider.
Eco-minded businesses are snatching up the credits. Software manufacturer SAP says that it has a goal of getting to 100% green fuels while Microsoft says that it now gets 80% of its electricity from renewables.
As the technologies are getting incorporated by the nation’s bigger companies, they are subsequently becoming more and more accessible to all businesses. And with that trend, the New Energy Economy has taken root and will only sprout higher.