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Posted on June 29, 2011

Renewable Energy: A New Corporate Responsibility

Several well-known American companies, including Kohl’s department stores, Whole Foods and Intel, are among the world’s leading corporate buyers of renewable energy, according to a global Corporate Renewable Energy Index launched yesterday by Bloomberg and the Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas.

On a percentage basis, Kohl’s topped the charts with 100 percent of its electricity coming from renewable supplies like wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. Whole Foods, which buys all of its electricity from wind farms, came in a very close second.

Other American firms in the top 20 include Adobe Systems, News Corp., BNY Mellon Corp., Starbucks, MetLife, State Street Corp. and Johnson & Johnson.

In terms of total purchases of renewable energy, Intel edged out Kohl’s. It drew on renewable sources to satisfy just over a third of its ravenous appetite for electricity to run its semiconductor fabrication lines and other operations. Cisco Systems and Lockheed Martin Corp. were also among the 20 largest buyers of renewable energy on the global list.

The survey, which gathered data from 176 of the world’s 1,000 largest corporation, is still a bit spotty in its coverage. But it helps shine a spotlight on an area of growing importance to sustainable and responsible business practices.

The average large American company on the list bought 22 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, compared to 12 percent for the entire global sample.

That’s all the more impressive, given that American consumers are the least inclined in the world to credit the social and environmental importance of renewable energy.

A companion survey of global consumer attitudes by Vestas and TNS Gallup found that 79 percent of consumers worldwide have a more positive perception of brands produced with wind energy. But while 95% of consumers in China prefer getting their electricity from renewable sources, only 71% of their counterparts in the United States do the same.

Still, looking on the bright side, we should be thankful that only 8% of U.S. consumers picked fossil fuels as their preferred source of electricity!

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