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Wal-Mart, Catholic Church among Organizations Using Alternative Energy

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When we set out to see what major organizations are making serious use of green energy, the last folks we thought we’d run into were the world’s biggest company and the world’s oldest Christian church – albeit one location in Toronto.

But that’s exactly who we found playing a role in leading the way for green energy use in major organizations.

Your natural assumption might be that bigger companies have been lagging behind when it comes to green energy. Believe it or not, in some cases, they are making major contributions. 

What’s more, a large percentage of companies that already produce their own energy or buy renewable energy are exploring the option of increasing the amount, notes a 2010 Enterprise Renewable Energy Adoption survey. And half of U.S. companies that aren’t yet using renewable energy are considering generating, buying or at least purchasing renewable energy credits.

Companies making largest use of alternative energy

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, some of the largest current users of alternative energy at the largest companies in North America include, starting with the highest:

Intel: The chip-maker used 2.5 billion kWh of biomass, geothermal, small-Hydro, solar, and wind power in 2010 – 88% of its total electrical use

Kohl’s Department Stores generated all of its 1.5 billion kWh of power in 2010 using biomass, small-hydro, wind, and solar

Whole Foods makes headlines due to the fact that 100% of their 817 million kWh of power consumption came from solar and wind power isn’t really a headline…Not for them anyway. The grocery giant has been doing so for half a decade now, since 2006 

Starbucks: Feel bad buying a latte from the big, bad mega-corporation? It might soothe your soul to know that in 2010, Starbucks drew more than half its 573 million kWh of energy consumption from wind power.

Johnson & Johnson, Staples: In 2010, each of these companies used about 400 million kWh –roughly half of which was serviced via biogas, solar, and wind

Bet you didn’t know that the companies above are among the largest users of green energy on Earth (and that Google didn’t make the list.)

In the case of Wal-Mart (#12 on the list) which many took as a poster child for green washing – the world’s largest company is now making surprising strides with a nationwide recycling program aimed at reducing waste to zero by 2025. As a pilot program, the initiative already saw an 80% drop in garbage sent to landfill from its California stores. 

When it comes to use of green energy, the retail giant isn’t just unscrewing every-other light bulb in its stores, it’s actually using solar, wind, and biogas to power 8% of its U.S. operations on-site via North Carolina’s Duke Energy.

Believe it or not, Wal-Mart is even using fuel cells (via California-based Bloom Energy) and will provide power to surrounding homes. With Wal-Mart, scale is everything.

In the case of the Catholic Church, prominent Toronto location St Gabriel’s Passionist Parish in 2006 became the first church in Canada (and one of the first in the world) to receive LEED Gold certification. The building – which can best be described as Dan Brown meets Gene Roddenberry – features passive solar heating, a living green wall, and underground parking to reduce the structure’s footprint and leave more room for landscaped gardens outside. (Carpool and hybrid spots are reserved next to disabled parking at the underground entrance.)

See the full list of the top corporate green-energy users:

Others making a difference


Philadelphia Zoo

Green business summit goes 100% neutral

More companies using green energy to lower pollution:


Written by: Peter McMahon

Award-winning science journalist and kids science author Peter McMahon has written and produced for Discovery Channel, CTV, The Toronto Star and Canadian Geographic. Currently serving as media centre co-ordinator for Equinox Summit: Energy 2030. Bio