Insiders Look at the Greenest U.S. Tech Businesses
From solar farms to employee gardens, heres a look at some U.S. technology companies that have undertaken impressive green initiatives.
The United States is rife with green-focused technology companies from mom-and-pop start-ups that use wind power to huge tech firms that harness solar power for their data centers.
Although you might not aspire to get off the grid, a glimpse into these companies might inspire you to pursue a few more green-computing strategies.
Heres a whos-who guide to the greenest tech companies in the nation.
This Mountain View, California-based technology company isnt just about providing better search results. Theres such a major focus on environmentally friendly measures that the company has a name for its internal movement: Google Green. Some of its latest eco moves:
- Data centers that are some of the most efficient in the world: Googles centers use only about half of what traditional data centers consume, saving the company billions of dollars in energy costs since its founding.
- Green power from wind: Google purchases clean energy from wind-farm owners, giving them the funding they need to expand their operations.
- On-campus green initiatives: The company relies on its employees to make suggestions and start campaigns for reducing Googles environmental impact. As a result, theres an extensive bike-to-work program, solar panels on the roofs and electric charging stations in the parking lot.
Based in Secaucus, New Jersey, Panasonic has been interested in green initiatives for decades and even established a pollution survey committee in 1970. In 2006 the company created full-time positions for environmental specialists. Some of its latest eco moves include:
- Environmentally friendly design: The engineers at Panasonic create products that are energy-efficient, use lead-free soldering and keep plastic resins to a minimum. Recent examples include projectors with automatic power-save features, tapeless video production tools and energy-efficient mobile computers.
- Consumer campaigns: The company launched a conservation program for its customers, promoting the reduction of carbon emissions through use of energy-saving products.
- Green manufacturing: Panasonic has worked to eliminate heavy metals from its production, including lead, mercury, cadmium and other environmental toxins.
Many communications companies work to reduce their environmental impact, but New York-based Verizon is determined to go above and beyond with its green initiatives. The company has been active in helping raise awareness of sustainable business practices and aims to be an environmental leader in the industry. Some of its latest eco moves:
- Promotion of electric vehicles: The company recently partnered with VIA Motors to develop plug-in electric vehicles that could be used in Verizons fleet. Already, Verizon maintains a large fleet of alternative-energy vehicles, including hybrid vans and trucks.
- Announcement of ambitious goals: In March 2012, as part of the companys broad sustainability efforts, Verizon announced it would cut its carbon intensity in half by 2020. The term refers to the amount of energy needed to move data across Verizons network.
- Rallies for recycling electronics: Many companies have had success with recycling days for electronics, since these items can be difficult for consumers and employees to discard on their own. During its 2011 rallies, Verizon collected more than 358,000 pounds of e-waste and recycled the items, keeping the electronics out of landfills.
Based in Palo Alto, California, HP has been at the forefront of technology innovation in the United States since its founding in 1939. The company focuses strongly on sustainability, for its customers as well as its own business. Some of its latest eco moves:
- Employee gardens: With urban farming and organic produce gaining more momentum, many companies are seeing the benefit of employee gardens. During its 25 years of running an employee garden program, HP has found employees are less stressed and eat more vegetables, and the companys land is put to better use.
- Reducing the effect of business travel: In an effort to minimize greenhouse-gas emissions caused by travel, HP helps employees choose low-carbon forms of transportation when traveling on business. When employees book a trip, theyre given information about the emissions associated with their journey and provided with multiple options (including teleconferencing, reducing the need for travel altogether).
- Renewable energy initiatives: HP looks for ways to participate in green energy programs worldwide. This has led to offices in Mexico using solar water-heaters in kitchens and bathrooms, solar-power systems in Israel and wind-power usage in Ireland. In the United States, the company has a rooftop solar-power system that fuels the large HP Labs research facility.
Software firm SAS is so committed to environmental initiatives that its corporate website sports a photo of a lamb nibbling grass at the companys solar-energy farm. The Cary, North Carolina-based company focuses on a range of programs, from water conservation to biodiversity protection. Some of its latest eco moves:
- Waste management: The company monitors its waste stream and offers numerous office recycling programs, even for items like scrap metal and shipping pallets.
- Eco education: To boost environmental awareness, SAS sponsors tours of its solar farms, plans companywide Earth Day activities and hosts an online green site to give employees more information about initiatives and events.
- Green sourcing and procurement: SAS makes extensive use of green products, such as environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and low-emissions paints for its campus buildings. It also works to eliminate unnecessary purchases and extend the life cycle of its existing assets and furniture.
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Although many companies on this list are global brands with thousands of employees, you dont need to be in the Fortune 500 to implement some major green initiatives. See our article on 10 Steps Toward an Effective, Green Small Business and start planning with our article, Earth-Friendly Business: A Guide to Going Green.
Changes can come from a variety of measures, like employee-led carpooling and recycling programs, implementation of energy-efficient computers and setting goals for going paperless.
If youre even more focused on getting green, look into employee vegetable gardens, solar panels for the office roof, buying wind power from local producers and other earth-friendly strategies. Take inspiration from top national companies to make an impact locally, for your own employees and community.
For more insights on green-computing and energy-efficient strategies, tap into our technology services and expert tips.