The shift from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources is well under way, offering societies worldwide a means of resolving longstanding and growing economic, social and environmental problems. A key, pivotal driver: The U.S. government has stepped up its efforts to promote and foster development and deployment of alternative, clean energy resources and technology during President Barack Obama’s two terms in office.
Forging strong public-private partnerships has, in turn, been central to the Obama administration’s clean energy strategy, and public recognition has been one aspect of this. On April 23, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership (GPP) updated its list of the top 100 organizations voluntarily using electricity generated from clean, renewable sources, such as wind and solar power. High-tech companies, including Intel, Microsoft, Google and Apple, feature prominently.
The EPA’s Green Power Top 100
For the seventh consecutive year, Intel Corp. topped the ranks of the top 100 U.S. organizations using renewable energy to power their operations. Demonstrating that it is possible to power an energy-intensive, multinational enterprise solely on renewable energy sources, Intel voluntarily met 100 percent of its electricity load with renewable resources, GPP highlights in a news release.
Among the U.S.’s other largest high-tech businesses, Apple, Google and Microsoft each ranked in the GPP’s top 10. Apple jumped three spots higher up the rankings, from No. 11 to No. 8, as its use of electricity from renewable resources rose nearly 100 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) over the past year.
Collectively, the green power usage of the GPP’s top 100 totaled almost 24 billion kWh annually, nearly 83 percent of the overall green power commitments made by EPA Green Power Partners.
Following is the latest, quarterly list of the top 10, which includes a diverse range of organizations, private and public:
- Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.)
- Kohl’s Department Stores (Menomonee Falls, Wis.)
- Microsoft Corp. (Redmond, Wash.)
- Whole Foods Market (Austin, Texas)
- Google Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.)
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Bentonville, Ark.)
- Staples (Framingham, Mass.)
- Apple Inc. (Cupertino, Calif.)
- City of Houston, Texas
- U.S. Department of Energy (Washington, D.C.)
EPA defines green power as “electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact, small hydroelectric sources. More than 1,200 organizations are partners in the EPA GPP, “purchasing more than 28 billion kilowatt-hours of green power annually, avoiding carbon pollution equal to that created by the electricity use of more than 2.4 million American homes.”
Commenting on the latest GPP top 100 update, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stated:
“By using green power, these companies and organizations are showing that business can flourish while taking meaningful steps to reduce carbon pollution. Making cleaner choices to power our communities, institutions and businesses reduces the pollution that contributes to climate change, protects America’s health and environment, and supports continued growth in the green power sector.”
Top “Green Power” colleges and universities
Promoting and fostering renewable energy use among U.S. colleges and universities has been a focal point for EPA GPP for eight years running.
The Big 10 topped the ranks of 33 conferences taking part in this year’s EPA “College and University Green Power Challenge,” avoiding carbon emissions equivalent to the electricity use of 30,000 homes by collectively using over 309 kWh of green power. Purchasing more than 200 million kWh of clean, renewable electricity, the University of Pennsylvania ranked No. 1 for the seventh year running.
With the historic announcement of the U.S. “Climate Action Plan,” President Obama pledged to take actions to double the use of renewable energy nationwide by 2020. Aiming to achieve this goal, the EPA GPP also announced it is launching the “On-site Renewables Challenge,” the goal being to double renewable energy usage among participants by the end of the decade.
Image credits: 1) U.S. EPA, 2) Intel Corp.