Newsweek Releases a Green Ranking of America's Biggest Companies

A cap-and-trade bill in Congress and the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December have serious implications for the way businesses treat the environment.

Already, many companies have made an effort to reduce resource consumption and green house gas emissions. In response, Newsweek has created a ranking to recognize such efforts.

The Newsweek Green Ranking

Evaluating 500 companies, the Newsweek Green Rankings attempt to compare the largest companies in the United States across industries and business sectors. The magazine explains that:

Our goal was to assess each company's actual resource use and emissions and its policies and strategies, along with its reputation among its peers.

Doing so was not a simple task. Often, a company's environmental data is kept private, making accurate assessments nearly impossible. Then, there is the fact that some industries, like mining or manufacturing, are inherently dirtier than others, like financial services or technology. To overcome these challenges, Newsweek got help from a number of professional environmental and business analysts.

The Methodology

The ranking considers the 500 largest companies in the United States, as measured by their "revenue, market capitalization and number of employees." The companies are indexed by a "green score." This is a composite of three measurements: an environmental impact score, a green policies score, and a reputation score, all of which were "normalized" and combined to form the overall number.

Deriving these values was a complex process, partially explained in an accompanying document, and the final green score is an intricate combination of this data.

To develop its ranking Newsweek worked with KLD Research & Analytics, which specializes in tracking environmental, social, and governance data on businesses, TruCost, which compiles comprehensive environmental impact data, and CorporateRegister, an online registry of sustainability and environmental reporting.

What's the Value of This Ranking?

Newsweek explains, that the "hope is to open a conversation on measuring environmental performance—an essential first step toward improving it."

This, ultimately, is the value of Newsweek's list. The Green Ranking provides a benchmark that can be used to compare otherwise impossibly different companies. It's this kind of comparison that must take place if business is going to become more sustainable.

Read more about green business:
8 Celebrity Eco-Businesses We Can't Stop Talking About
Green for All Launches Program to Help Green Businesses Secure Stimulus Funds
The Climate's Changing at Business Schools

Tags: Carbon Emissions | Carbon Footprint | Consumerism | Corporate Responsibility