Connect with us

Environment

Ranked: The 50 Companies That Use the Highest Percentage of Green Energy

Published

on

The 50 Companies Using the Highest Percentage of Green Energy

Which Companies Use the Most Green Energy?

Green energy was once a niche segment of the wider energy industry, but it’s quickly becoming an essential energy source in many regions and nations across the globe.

Based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this infographic by SolarPower.Guide shows the top 50 greenest companies, based on the highest proportion of green energy used in their overall consumption mix.

Leaders in Green Energy Use

As green energy becomes more affordable, some major businesses like Google, Wells Fargo, and Apple are embracing it in a big way.

It also helps that institutional investors are nudging companies in that direction anyways, especially as they become more focused on incorporating environment, social and governance (ESG) into their portfolios.

Here are the top 15 U.S. companies that use the highest percentage of green energy:

RankCompanyGreen Power useAnnual Green Power Use (kWh)
#1The Estee Lauder Companies Inc.139%91,843,084
#2Voya Financial120%40,000,000
#3BNY Mellon113%268,000,000
#4Sephora112%112,323,000
#5Bank of America109%1,855,505,589
#6Church & Dwight Co.107%159,445,000
#7Google LLC106%7,492,567,647
#8The Hartford Financial Services Group106%68,835,000
#9Wells Fargo105%1,843,545,975
#10Equinix104%2,360,296,352
#11State Street Corp.104%158,991,503
#12Aldi103%984,430,521
#13Apple Inc.101%2,202,581,271
#14Starbucks101%1,119,392,000
#15TD Bank101%210,209,954

Note: The values reflect the amount of green power as a percentage of a company’s total electricity use. Companies that purchase green power exceeding their total organization-wide electricity use will show a value greater than 100%.

Green Energy vs. Renewable Energy

The term “green energy” is often met with confusion by some and is sometimes just referred to as “renewables” by others. So, what is green energy, and how is it different from other sources of renewable energy?

Green energy is a subset of renewable energy and represents those energy sources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit. The EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources.

Other renewable types of energy exist, but may not be considered fully green, at least as the EPA defines it. For example, while massive hydro projects provide a renewable source of energy, they can also have big impact on the environment. Same goes for non-eligible biomass—a category which includes biomass that may not be close to carbon-neutral.

Climate Commitments

In addition to the use of green power for operations, major companies are also looking at the bigger picture and setting targets to achieve carbon neutrality.

Here are a few of the major companies that have made climate commitments in the near future:

CompanyCommitmentBy Year
AppleNet Zero Carbon Emission2030
IkeaClimate Positive2030
Burger KingNet Zero Operations2030
MicrosoftNet Zero Carbon Emission2030
BBCNet Zero Carbon Emission2030
FacebookNet Zero Value Chain2030
VerizonNet Zero Carbon Emission2035
UnileverNet Zero Carbon Emission2039
Pepsi Co.Net Zero Carbon Emission2040
BPNet Zero Carbon Emission2050

This will undoubtedly impact their overall consumption and the energy mix in the years to come.

Click for Comments

Environment

The Most Polluted Cities in the U.S.

What are the most polluted cities in the U.S. according to data from the American Lung Association’s 2024 State of the Air Report?

Published

on

Teaser image for an infographic showing the most polluted cities in the U.S. according to the American Lung Association's 2024 State of the Air report.

Published

on

The following content is sponsored by National Public Utilities Council

The Most Polluted U.S. Cities in 2024

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is responsible for 7 million deaths annually, and could cost the global economy between $18–25 trillion by 2060 in annual welfare costs, or roughly 4–6% of world GDP.

And with predictions that 7 in 10 people will make their homes in urban centers by mid-century, cities are fast becoming one of the frontlines in the global effort to clear the air.

In this visualization, we use 2024 data from the State of the Air report from the American Lung Association to show the most polluted cities in the United States.

What is Air Pollution?

Air pollution is a complex mixture of gases, particles, and liquid droplets and can have a variety of sources, including wildfires and cookstoves in rural areas, and road dust and diesel exhaust in cities. 

There are a few kinds of air pollution that are especially bad for human health, including ozone and carbon monoxide, but here we’re concerned with fine particulate matter that is smaller than 2.5 microns, or PM2.5 for short. 

The reason for the focus is because at that small size, particulate matter can penetrate the bloodstream and cause all manner of havoc, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic pulmonary disease. 

The American Lung Association has set an annual average guideline of 9 µg/m³ for PM2.5, however, the World Health Organization has set a much more stringent limit of 5 µg/m³.

The 21 Worst Polluted Cities in the U.S.

Here are the top 21 most polluted cities in the U.S., according to their annual average PM2.5 concentrations:

RankCity, StateAnnual average concentration, 2020-2022 (µg/m3)
1Bakersfield, CA18.8
2Visalia, CA18.4
3Fresno, CA17.5
4Eugene, OR14.7
5Bay Area, CA14.3
6Los Angeles, CA14.0
7Sacramento, CA13.8
8Medford, OR13.5
9Phoenix, AZ12.4
10Fairbanks, AK12.2
11Indianapolis, IN11.9
12Yakima, WA11.8
13Detroit, MI11.7
T14Chico, CA11.6
T14Spokane, WA11.6
15Houston, TX11.4
16El Centro, CA11.1
17Reno, NV11.0
18Pittsburgh, PA10.9
T19Kansas City, KS10.8
T19Las Vegas, NV10.8

Note: The American Lung Association uses Core Based Statistical Areas in its city and county rankings, which have been shortened here to the area’s principal city, or metro area in the case of the Bay Area, CA.

Six of the top seven cities are in California, and four in the state’s Central Valley, a 450-mile flat valley that runs parallel to the Pacific coast, and bordered by the Coast and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. As a result, when pollution from the big population centers on the coast is carried inland by the wind—cities #5 and #6 on the list—it tends to get trapped in the valley. 

Bakersfield (#1), Visalia (#2), and Fresno (#3) are located at the drier and hotter southern end of the valley, which is worse for air quality. The top three local sources of PM2.5 emissions in 2023 were farms (20%), forest management / agricultural waste burning (20%), and road dust (14%). 

Benefit to Economy

While the health impacts are generally well understood, less well known are the economic impacts.

Low air quality negatively affects worker productivity, increases absenteeism, and adds both direct and indirect health care costs. But the flip side of that equation is that improving air quality has measurable impacts to the wider economy. The EPA published a study that calculated the economic benefits of each metric ton of particulate matter that didn’t end up in the atmosphere, broken down by sector. 

SectorBenefits per metric ton
Residential Woodstoves$429,220
Refineries$333,938
Industrial Boilers$174,229
Oil and Natural Gas Transmission$125,227
Electricity Generating Units$124,319
Oil and Natural Gas$88,838

At the same time, the EPA recently updated a cost-benefit analysis of the Clean Air Act, the main piece of federal legislation governing air quality, and found that between 1990 and 2020 it cost the economy roughly $65 billion, but also provided $2 trillion in benefits

Benefit to Business

But that’s at the macroeconomic level, so what about for individual businesses?

For one, employees like to breathe clean air and will choose to work somewhere else, given a choice. A 2022 Deloitte case study revealed that nearly 70% of highly-skilled workers said air quality was a significant factor in choosing which city to live and work in.

At the same time, air quality can impact employer-sponsored health care premiums, by reducing the overall health of the risk pool. And since insurance premiums averaged $7,590 per year in 2022 for a single employee, and rose to $21,931 for a family, that can add up fast. 

Consumers are also putting their purchase decisions through a green lens, while ESG, triple-bottom-line, and impact investing are putting the environment front and center for many investors.

And if the carrot isn’t enough for some businesses, there is the stick. The EPA recently gave vehicle engine manufacturer Cummins nearly two billion reasons to help improve air quality, in a settlement the agency is calling “the largest civil penalty in the history of the Clean Air Act and the second largest environmental penalty ever.”

Visual Capitalist Logo

Learn how the National Public Utilities Council is working toward the future of sustainable electricity.

Click for Comments

You may also like

Voronoi, the app by Visual Capitalist. Where data tells the story. Download on App Store or Google Play

Subscribe

Continue Reading
Voronoi, the app by Visual Capitalist. Where data tells the story. Download on App Store or Google Play

Subscribe

Popular