Newsweek colors Dell, IBM, HP the greenest

Tech firms proved dominant in Newsweek’s rankings of the greenest companies around the world, with Dell, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard among those singled out.

Out today, Newsweek’s rankings looked at the most environmentally friendly companies in the U.S. alone and throughout the world. The goal of the study was to zero in on three factors: environmental impact, policies, and reputation.

Among the 500 public companies tracked in the U.S., Dell came out on top. The PC maker was lauded by Newsweek for its environmental policies, such as free product recycling and a ban on the export of e-waste to developing countries. The company has also been able to drive in customers and sales by designing computers that consume 25 percent less energy than those made a couple of years ago. Dell estimates that it’s helped customers save more than $5 billion in energy costs since 2006 through the energy management features on its OptiPlex business computers.

“Dell’s focus on environmental stewardship and sustainability helps us to be a more responsible partner to our customers,” CEO Michael Dell said in a statement. “The efficiencies we can all achieve through the use of greener products, solutions, services and programs should be an integral part of every corporate culture.”

The top 10 in the U.S. also included such tech players as HP, IBM, Intel, Sprint Nextel, Adobe Systems, Applied Materials, and Yahoo. Certain companies were applauded for devising unique ways to cool their data centers, a process that typically demands a huge amount of energy. Yahoo, for example, has been able to build greener data centers, including one in New York that consumes 40 percent less energy and 94 percent less water than conventional data centers.

One company that generally seems to be on the forefront of greener tech is Google. The company has been behind several environmentally friendly initiatives, from an investment in a power backbone for a wind farm to its lawn-mowing goats. But the search giant ranked only 36th on Newsweek’s U.S. list, scoring lower than one might expect on its environmental impact and policies.

Looking beyond the U.S. to the entire world, IBM took the top spot among the 100 greenest global companies, followed by HP in second place.

Big Blue has actually been ahead of the curve in looking to cut its use of electricity and water. Between 1990 and 2000, the company was able to reduce its energy consumption by 5.1 billion kilowatt hours, enough to power a medium-sized town, according to Newsweek. IBM has also embarked on a number of green projects, including its Sustainability Management System, which looks to help customers operate their commercial buildings in a greener way.

For many companies, including HP, the effort to create products that cost less to make and use is also saving energy and reducing waste as a result. HP’s current IT systems use 66 percent less energy than the ones it designed in 2005.

“A lot of the innovation in this space is coming out of business pressure,” Michael Mendenhall, HP’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

To devise a “green score” for each company, Newsweek worked with some key environmental organizations. The score was based on three factors:

  • Environmental impact, which included greenhouse-gas emissions, water use, and solid-waste disposal
  • Green policies, an analysis of a company’s environmental policies and initiatives
  • Reputation, which was based on a survey of academics, environmental officers, and CEOs

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