2011 Newsweek Green Rankings Name IBM as Greenest Company in America

Newsweek has released the 2011 Green Rankings of the 500 greenest companies in America and 500 more from a global list, collaborating with environmental research companies Trucost and Sustainalytics to form a list based on company management and environmental impact. The three companies analyzed the data from each company according to three main factors: measuring a company’s footprint according to greenhouse gas emissions and water use; assessing the company’s internal policies relating to environmental issues, such as environmental programs and initiatives; and analyzing the company’s level of disclosure in reporting their environmental projects. This is the third annual Green Rankings list that Newsweek has published.

To compile these rankings, Newsweek follows the practices and policies of hundreds of companies, who are responsible for a combined total of more than 6 billion tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions – a figure almost as high as the United States’ annual contribution to global emissions. After analyzing its data and compiling the lists, Newsweek found that the companies ranked as “greenest” are not only reducing their carbon footprints in their practices and operations, but they are also bringing more efficient products to the consumer market. 

In the U.S. Green Rankings, IBM was awarded the honor of the greenest company in the United States, with Hewlett-Packard and Sprint Nextel taking second and third place, respectively.  Baxter, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Accenture, Office Depot, CA Technologies and Nvidia completed the top ten U.S. list. Johnson & Johnson, the sixth place winner, was also ranked second in a 2011 Global 100 listing of the world’s 100 most sustainable companies. The only other U.S. company to make the top 10 on the Global 100 list was Intel Corp., which received the number 6 spot.

IBM was awarded the most environmentally friendly company in the U.S. for its sustained reporting on environmental practices, a procedure that the company has voluntarily participated in for over 20 years. In the past two decades, IBM has decreased its emissions and saved 5.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity, cutting its costs by $400 million. Office Depot, the only retail store in the top 10 U.S. list, has reduced its footprint by saving $3,000 tons of wood per year and cutting costs by $1.5 million.

Technology, healthcare, and financial services firms ranked among the greenest companies in the U.S., due in part to the fact that these industries generally have a lower environmental impact than industries such as energy or food production.

In Newsweek’s Global Green Rankings, German reinsurance company Munich Re Group won the distinction of the world’s greenest company, with IBM taking second place and the only top ten spot on the global list. The prevalence of European countries in the highest-ranking spots of the global list is due to Europe’s stricter environmental regulations over its companies and the high transparency of European companies. According to Newsweek, these results “suggest that the U.S. is trailing other parts of the world in the sustainability arena.”

Newsweek also released a 2011 listing of the country’s least green companies, which included T. Rowe Price Group, an international investment firm, investment company BlackRock Financial Management Inc. and agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto, which is well-known for producing genetically modified seeds for 90 percent of the nation’s genetically engineered crops, including corn. Most of the companies ranked as “least green” were in the industries of energy, food and beverage, utilities and materials. Newsweek remarks that, while most of these industries have a reputation for being less environmentally-friendly by nature, many of these firms aren’t taking enough steps to utilize greener technology and reduce their carbon footprints, and aren’t being open with the public about their environmental efforts.

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