- American businesses comprised 52 of the 200 companies that have earned substantial revenue through clean-energy initiatives since July 2016.
- Companies that pursue green energy initiatives tend to see greater returns on their investments than others.
- Your company can be more sustainable through shifts as minor as recycling more often and as major as going fully remote.
- This article is for business owners interested in sustainability trends and making their companies more environmentally conscious.
The 2022 Clean200 list was released by As You Sow, a nonprofit promoting environmental and social corporate responsibility. This list showcases the world’s top-ranked “clean” companies based on their “total green energy revenue.” Here are the household-name companies and lesser-known businesses on the list, and tips for following in their sustainable footsteps.
Who’s on the 2022 Clean200 list?
Sitting atop the list of 200 companies are Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc., Intel Corp., Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Cisco Systems, Tesla Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., HP Inc., Schneider Electric SE and Siemens AG.
The list comprises “the largest 200 public companies ranked by green energy revenues.” The report spans July 1, 2016, through Jan. 31, 2022.
The report included a letter from Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock – the world’s largest investment company. “It’s been two years since I wrote that climate risk is investment risk,” the excerpt read. “And in that short period, we have seen a tectonic shift of capital. Sustainable investments have now reached $4 trillion. Actions and ambitions towards decarbonization have also increased. This is just the beginning – the tectonic shift towards sustainable investing is still accelerating. Whether it is capital being deployed into new ventures focused on energy innovation, or capital transferring from traditional indexes into more customized portfolios and products, we will see more money in motion. Every company and every industry will be transformed by the transition to a net zero world.”
Tip: Read more about socially responsible businesses that put sustainability at the heart of their operations.
The financial patterns of green companies
Primarily based on data from Corporate Knights Research, the Clean200 list shows that “58% of revenues earned by Clean200 companies are classified as clean.” That’s a 19% increase from the equivalent value in 2021.
Additionally, the current list of Clean200 companies has generated a total return of 107.09%. This number is slightly higher than the total return gross figures for the MSCI ACWI broad market index (103.15%). It’s also much higher than the MSCI ACWI/Energy Index fossil fuel index (31.67%).
Global representation of clean-energy companies
The Clean200 features companies from 35 nations across the globe. The United States is the most represented country with 52 companies. Canada followed with 18 companies and China came in third with 16 businesses.
While the world’s major financial powerhouses naturally top the list, smaller European markets have joined the roster. Countries like Finland (6), Switzerland (3) and Ireland (6) are represented, along with their bigger counterparts in France (12), Germany (9) and Spain (6). Europe made up a large portion of the Clean200 with 75 companies.
According to industry type, 28.5% (57 firms) of the list’s entries are industrial. Information technology makes up 24% of the list with 48 companies, and utilities make up 14% of the list with 28 companies.
Tip: Make your sustainability efforts genuine. Some companies practice greenwashing – marketing themselves as environmentally conscious without making any notable sustainability efforts.
Making the grade
The methodology behind the Clean200 relies on the Corporate Knights Clean Revenue database. This methodology goes beyond just companies that have adopted energy efficiency measures, green energy, and zero-emission and hybrid vehicles. It also includes companies that make ecologically and socially sound investments.
Only businesses with more than 10% in clean energy revenue are on the list. Furthermore, the list also “excludes all oil and gas companies, all utilities that generate less than 50 percent of their power from green sources, the top 100 coal companies measured by reserves, the top 100 oil and gas companies as measured by reserves, as well as all fossil fuel companies, majority fossil-fired utilities, pipeline and oil field services companies, and other fossil fuel-related companies.”
Additionally, the roster excludes manufacturers of weapons, such as handheld guns and nuclear weapons. Certain manufacturers of beef, rubber, timber, soy, paper, pulp and palm oil also don’t qualify for inclusion. Activities that could disqualify a company from inclusion include deforestation, fossil fuel financing and attempts to block climate policy. These screens resulted in the exclusion of 70 organizations.
Tip: Are you interested in minimizing paper waste? Consider migrating to a paperless office and focusing on digital documents.
How to make sustainability part of your business model
If massive corporations can uphold green practices, so can your small business. Utilizing clean resources is excellent for your bottom line, as most customers prefer sustainable products.
Here are just a few of the many ways to make your business more sustainable:
- Go remote. The average commute results in 3.2 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. If you have even a few people driving to your office every weekday, your business could be responsible for dozens of tons of annual emissions. Shifting to remote work eliminates these emissions. Technology makes it easy to transition to total or partial remote work. Learn about the best video conferencing services to facilitate remote meetings, and consider the best remote PC access software for troubleshooting. Additionally, the best online project management tools can keep your team running efficiently. And, as a plus, ending commutes can help boost employee morale.
- Incentivize public transit. If you need specific employees to report in person, paying for some or all of their public transit commutes can lower your emissions. Your incentives will make it easier for these employees to choose local buses, subways and trains over cars. These transit forms emit less carbon dioxide per person, per mile than car commuters.
- Recycle properly. Your business likely uses many recyclable materials throughout the office – including paper, plastics and ink cartridges. Be sure to recycle these items properly. It’s particularly important to be responsible when recycling old printers and technology. Find local rules and lists of allowed materials on your municipal waste management website. You can also contract a private recycling service to address a broader range of items that might otherwise go in the trash.
- Sign up for composting. Your employees’ lunch leftovers don’t have to go in the trash. A composting service can help you and your team divert all your workplace meals out of the landfill and right back into the earth. These services will give you a compost bin, pick up your food scraps and leftovers weekly, and convert them into nutrient-rich fertilizers. Instead of creating trash, you’ll create life.
- Use sustainable packaging. According to McKinsey data published in late 2020, strong demand exists for partially – or fully – recyclable or compostable packaging. Incorporating this packaging into your products pleases your customers and the environment.
- Choose an eco-friendly web host. The internet is the very fiber of modern-day connection, but it also requires constant electricity. Some of the best web hosting companies take steps to minimize their carbon footprint. Consider hosting your website with these businesses to lower your carbon footprint while staying connected.
- Upgrade your office. LEDs use less energy than standard incandescent bulbs, and ductless mini-split systems – also known as heat pumps – are typically more energy-efficient than standard central air. Switching to these environment-setting technologies can make your company more sustainable and lower your expenses. When you sustain the earth, you sustain your business.
Andrew Martins contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.