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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, November 2016
WEB Exclusive story

Shine On

While companies often revert to a fighting stance when it comes to the EPA, some are happy to accept its praise for their energy efforts.

SC Johnson's two 415-foot wind turbines help power its Waxdale manufacturing facility in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin.
Photo courtesy of SC Johnson and PRNewsFoto

by Adam Bruns

The EPA's Green Power Partnership Fortune 500 Partners list includes 78 companies, led in total green power usage by Intel, Microsoft, Kohl's, Cisco Systems and Google.

The agency recently saluted leading organizations. Its Green Power Partner of the Year was IT networking systems company Cisco Systems. According to the EPA, "in 2015, the company more than doubled its green power use to more than 1.1 billion kilowatt-hours of green power globally, representing approximately 97 percent of its total US and 72 percent of its global electricity consumption."

Additionally, Cisco continues to implement energy-based projects throughout its 21-millio-sq.-ft. real estate portfolio, the agency said, including energy efficiency retrofits and on-site solar installations. But it doesn't stop with just the company itself.

"The company’s global presence enables it to play an important role in promoting green power and environmental sustainability within the IT industry," said the EPA citation. "Cisco reduces greenhouse gas emissions throughout its own operations and encourages its vendors, business partners, and supply chain to do the same. It publicly reports its carbon footprint and has succeeded in getting between 80 and 100 percent of its primary suppliers (depending on type) to do so. Cisco also asks suppliers to report their green power use in its Supplier Business Scorecard, which includes sustainability criteria to help Cisco better monitor supplier performance and to collaborate with supply chain partners to optimize environmental and labor improvements."

SC Johnson — manufacturer of such brands as Windex, Raid, Ziploc, Johnson Wax and Off! — announced it had received one of seven 2016 Green Power Leadership Awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The company is generating 23 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity from on-site landfill gas and wind energy systems — enough to rank the company 16th nationally in that category. Walmart and Apple rank first and second for on-site annual green power usage. The other six organizations receiving Excellence in Green Power Use awards included Biogen; BNY Mellon; Forest County Potawatomi Community, Wisconsin; Goldman Sachs, the Government of the District of Columbia and Intel Corp.

In addition to its on-site generation, SC Johnson also purchases an additional 55 million kWh of green power annually, which is enough to meet 44 percent of the organization's electricity use. (To learn more about SC Johnson's sustainability efforts, click here.)

"Being honored this way for the second time motivates the people that work at this company to continue to do more and more," said Kelly M. Semrau, senior vice president – global corporate affairs, communication and sustainability at SC Johnson. "From making our own green energy to cutting the amount of manufacturing waste, we fulfill our commitment to doing what's right for the planet, and more importantly, the next generation."

The company followed up that award by receiving this month the 2016 Western Hemisphere Corporate Citizenship Award from the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America & the Caribbean (AACCLA). The award was earned for the company’s “SCJ Recycles” program in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

More than ever, we know that our goal to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy is the right goal and that marrying up renewables with energy efficiency is especially powerful. The math adds up pretty quickly — when we use less energy that's less energy we have to buy, and that means less waste and more savings.
— Mike Duke, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Green power is zero-emissions electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact hydro. Using green power helps accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide and helps users reduce their carbon footprints.

Among the model efforts at other top-performing organizations recognized by the EPA:

  • Intel has purchased more than 18 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power since 2008. installed more than 60 on-site renewable energy projects to directly supply the power needs of the relevant facility, which helps reduce Intel’s dependency on grid-based electricity while using clean energy alternatives. Intel continues to pilot new technologies to improve its environmental performance, such as micro wind turbines at its Santa Clara headquarters.
  • In 2015, Biogen used 100 percent renewable energy domestically after purchasing 91 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy certificates. As of 2014, Biogen has achieved carbon neutrality across its entire value chain, establishing a year-over-year commitment.
  • Goldman Sachs aims to reduce its absolute energy use across its operationally-controlled facilities by 10 percent from 2013 to 2020. The company accelerated its commitments and in 2015 achieved carbon neutrality for its emissions. aims to use 100 percent renewable energy to meet its global electricity needs by 2020. Goldman Sachs established a Clean Technology and Renewables team in its Investment Banking Division to help deploy capital to scale up clean energy technologies; the company has expanded on a previous target to invest and finance $150 billion in capital for the clean energy sector by 2025. With its purchase of 316 million kilowatt-hours of Green-e® certified renewable energy certificates, Goldman Sachs uses green power for 100 percent of its U.S. operations.

EPA updates its Top Partner Rankings quarterly at

Intel Headquarters
Intel has used more than 18 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power since 2008. The company plans to use micro wind turbines at its headquarters in Santa Clara, California.
Photo by Walden Kirsch courtesy of Intel Corp.

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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