For many companies, renewable energy is seen as nice-to-have, not a need-to-have, particularly after the economy nose-dived.
Yet an ever-growing number of companies are still identifying ways of making the business case for green power, finding that sweet spot where their environmental and business goals align.
For New Leaf Paper, for example, renewable energy has enabled its business to grow. Privately held SC Johnson gets about 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources, largely generated on-site. And WhiteWave Foods has turned its long-term purchases of renewable energy into a vehicle by which it can educate its customers and differentiate its line of soy-based products.
The three companies each have made their own case for green power, which they highlighted during a panel discussion yesterday. The workshop took place at the Renewable Energy Markets Conference in San Francisco, where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and Center for Resource Solutions crowned this year's crop of Green Power Leadership Award winners [see list of winners on p. 3].
SC Johnson takes a multi-pronged approach to green power, according to Cindy Drucker, the company's director of global sustainability.
"What we try to do is push the envelope on innovative ways to have renewable energy," Drucker said, noting that the company's Racine, Wis., facility is powered through co-generation, while its operations in Indonesia convert used palm oil husks into fuel.
But the company has also bet big on wind by installing wind turbines at several facilities. Its second largest plant in Michigan gets 66 percent of its energy from on-site wind turbines. SC Johnson is also in the process of siting two to three additional wind turbines at the Racine, Wis., facility, which would allow the company to have 100 percent renewable energy at the site, which Drucker said is about the size of 36 football fields.