Clean energy is one of the newer focuses of engineering, but is increasingly important to corporations, cities, and other organizations seeking to reduce their carbon footprints and their dependence on fossil fuels. Employment growth in these areas is predicted to outpace most other occupations, meaning good job prospects for environmental engineers, solar engineers, and other engineers working with clean energy.
Here are five major organizations setting an example for green energy use, for environmentally-focused engineers to keep on their radar.
Image credit: Intel.com
Not only is Intel currently ranked number one in the EPA’s annual ranking on the use of corporate renewable energy, they have held that position since 2008. 100 percent of their electricity is made up of green power. Their electric providers are Sterling Power and PNM, but they also use on-site generation. In 2010, Intel used 1.4 billion kWh of clean energy, increasing this number a year later by 88 percent. Just this past year, Intel used 3.1 billion kWh of clean energy, resetting their clean energy record. They get their renewable energy from multiple sources, including biomass, geothermal, small-hydro, solar, and wind.
Image credit: Technet.com
This past year, Microsoft beat out competition to reach number two on the EPA’s list of the cleanest-energy companies in the US. 80 percent of their electricity is made up of green power, and their annual green power usage clocks in at just under 2 billion kWh. They also get electricity from Sterling Power and have on-site generation. Their green power resources come from biomass, small-hydro, solar, and wind. Microsoft is often compared to Apple, who ranks on the list in the teens. However, Apple’s rank may soon change, as they made a deal that will allow them to produce their products in a solar-powered plant. Apple, along with Facebook and Google, are pushing for more clean-energy campaigns.
Image credit: kohlsgreen.com
Kohl’s, previously in second place, got knocked down the board by Microsoft. But this does not mean they use less clean energy. According to SaveonEnergy.com, Kohl’s made big changes in their lighting infrastructure in an effort to reduce wattage and save energy. The company used 1.5 kWh of green power this year, and green power was an astonishing 105 percent of their electricity use. The reason they used fewer kWh of green power is because of the company’s smaller size, which actually makes their numbers even more impressive. Electric providers include Sterling Power, Nexant, Renewable Choice Energy, 3Degrees, and an on-site generator. Their main energy resource is solar power, but they also take advantage of wind power. All of their new stores are LEED certified with over 700 stores due to become certified by the year 2015.
Image via ecowatch.com
Since Whole Foods focuses on organic and healthy food, it is easy to see why they are also one of the retail leaders in clean energy. Their green power is over 107 percent of their electricity with over 800 million kWh of green power used each year. Whole Foods uses wind and solar power resources with an on-site generator and 3Degrees supplying green power. Whole Foods even has a whole team of people responsible for improving their green power usage, called the Green Mission Leadership Team.
City of Austin, TX
Image credit: inhabitat.com
Though it is not a corporation and ranks slightly lower on the EPA’s list than the above companies, the city of Austin deserves mention because it is the largest city in the country to use only renewable energy – which may also explain why it serves as the headquarters for Whole Foods. All of the city’s public buildings, water treatment plants, and the international airport are powered by renewable energy. Their renewable energy is even sourced locally, coming from wind farms in west Texas. The publicly owned utility company Austin Energy produces more renewable energy than any other in the US. With their first energy campaign beginning in 1982, Austin’s history in renewable energy is quite long.
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