IBM, HP, Sprint retain top spots in Newsweek Green Rankings

In the race to become the world’s greenest company, Team Finance and Team Technology have taken the lead.

So say the results of Newsweek’s fourth-annual Green Rankings released this morning, which ranked IBM as the top environmental performer out of the 500 largest publicly traded U.S. companies for the second year in a row, and fourth-best company globally.

Hewlett-Packard and Sprint Nextel maintained their #2 and #3 rankings, respectively, as compared to the 2011 results.

Brazil-based Santander Bank topped Newsweek's second list of rankings, of the top 500 publicly traded global companies. Finance and IT sector companies dominated this group. Together, they represented eight out of the top 10 companies on the global list.

The peer-reviewed rankings, considered perhaps the most rigorous of its kind and determined in partnership with quantitative experts Trucost and Sustainalytics, scored companies based on their performance in three areas: their total environmental footprint, their sustainable programs and policies, and the efficacy of their reporting and transparency.

(To read more about the study's methodology and what makes this year's measurements more meaningful than ever, read GreenBiz Executive Editor Joel Makower's piece here).

For Sprint -- the only telecommunications company to make the U.S. top 10 list -- the acknowledgment “signifies that we’re making progress in running a more sustainable and socially-minded business,” Bill White, the company’s senior vice president of corporate responsibility, told GreenBiz. “We believed we could run a more sustainable business through everyday decision making. That kind of thinking has driven a greener culture across our employees.”

This year's rankings saw a surge in progress for the U.S. tech sector. A few companies moved up the ranks -- including Intel, which jumped from #15 to #7 -- and granted the sector seven of the top 10 slots on the U.S. list.

One tech company that's rocketed up the list over the past few years is CA Technologies; the N.Y.-based IT management software company ranked #5 this year. In 2011, it was ranked #9, and #46 the year before that.

Cynthia Curtis, a vice president at the company and its Chief Sustainability Officer, attributed CA Technologies’s success to a focused effort on getting a much better handle on its footprint, putting in place a more robust governance model, reporting more of its sources and inputting much more real versus extrapolated data into its system.

“That helped us tremendously in regards to really knowing where to focus,” she said. “It’s been a process of methodically going through and focusing on those areas where we can have a real impact.”

U.S. office products retailers had a successful year as well, with Staples rising from its #17 ranking in 2011 to a #10 ranking in 2012. Office Depot retained its place in the top 10, though slid a notch from #8 to #9.

Other shifts downward on the U.S. list included the disappearance of two health care sector companies from the top 10 – Baxter (#4 to #18) and Johnson & Johnson (#6 to #36). Energy company Sunoco, dropping 139 spots from #192 to #331, experienced one of the greatest slides over the past year, as did Caterpillar, which fell 108 spots down to a midpack position at #252.

Photo of dart hitting target provided by Olivier Le Moal via Shutterstock

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