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Top 25 Green Energy Leaders

Forward-thinking companies, universities and municipalities are finding creative ways to run on renewable power

12. (tie) Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Harrisburg, PA | Government
300 million green kWh, 30% of total power used
In the summer of 2008 Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania signed more than $650 million to the state’s Governor’s Green Government Council, which was created 11 years ago by former governor Tom Ridge. A chunk of that change is earmarked to help boost renewable energy use and development in the commonwealth—an industry that in 2008 already employed 3,000 people.

12. (tie) HSBC North America
Buffalo, NY | Banking & Financial Services
300 million green kWh, 93% of total power used
The international institution set itself apart from the rest of the finance crowd in October 2005 when it became the first bank to assert that it was carbon-neutral. To make up for the 7 percent of power consumption it hasn’t purchased through renewable energy credits, the bank ponies up for carbon offsets.

14. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, DC | Government
285 million green kWh, 100% of total power used
The organization that launched the Green Power Purchasers project—way back in 1999—comes in at number 14 on the list. Since 2007 the agency has offset all the power it uses to run its 200 buildings and labs with the purchase of renewable energy credits.

15. Wal-Mart
Texas, California | Retail
243 million green kWh, 8% of total power used
Leave it to the world’s largest retailer to lock in wind power at a market rate. Wal-Mart has a four-year contract to buy energy from a West Texas wind farm to help power the state’s hundreds of stores and facilities. Additionally, solar panels have been going up under 10-year contracts on some buildings in California. All this might be a drop in the blue-and-white bucket, but the bargain box chain has set a goal of eventually going all-renewable.

16. Kimberly-Clark
Dallas, TX | Consumer Products
223 million green kWh, 7% of total power used
The maker of paper products from Kleenex to Huggies has landed on the list simply by putting waste to good use. The papermaking process doesn’t just produce pristine rolls of paper; it also generates wood scraps, chemicals and other by-products rich in potential energy. By incinerating some of these would-be wastes, the company is helping to power facilities from Alabama to Washington State—and cutting costs by doing so.

17. City of Chicago
Illinois | Government
215 million green kWh, 20% of total power used
The Second City has outsourced its sustainable power generation to its western neighbor, Iowa. Des Moines–based MidAmerican Energy owns a wealth of wind farms, which generate the electricity Chicago funds through offset credits.

18. Starbucks
Seattle, WA | Restaurants
211 million green kWh, 20% of total power used
A 2006 audit showed that a whopping 81 percent of the coffee giant’s greenhouse emissions came from the conventional energy it used to power its North American stores; each square foot consumed an average of 6.57 kWh of electricity a month. Today the renewable wind energy the chain buys can supply more than 30 million square feet of coffeehouse—room for a whole lotta latte.

19. University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA | Education
193 million green kWh, 46% of total power used
This Ivy League university has greened its halls by locking into a 10-year renewable energy credit contract with Community Energy (now owned by international giant Iberdrola Renewables), which has a wind farm in Bear Creek, Pa. Since that first purchase, the school has also expanded into the national market, where buyers can get more offset credit per dollar, according to Dan Garofalo, the school’s environmental sustainability coordinator. He admits that the energy is not cheap now but says that “it’s very, very difficult to anticipate what energy prices are going to do.” School administrators have been able to justify the price tag by upgrading to more efficient cooling systems for the campus. Garofalo praises other sustainability practices such as recycling, at the same time noting that efficiencies and credits—“the stuff that people don’t see”—have a much bigger impact on the environment.

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