Finance, Tech Dominate 2012 Green Rankings

green business, 2012 green rankings, corporate responsibility, energy efficiencyNewsweek's fourth-annual Green Rankings 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 No. 2 and No. 3 rankings, respectively, as compared to the 2011 results.

Brazil-based Santander Bank topped Newsweek's rankings of the top 500 publicly traded global companies. Finance and IT sector companies dominated the global rankings, representing 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.

Sprint was the only telecommunications company to make the U.S. top 10 list. Bill White, the company's senior vice president of corporate responsibility, says the ranking is an acknowledgment of the progress Sprint is making in running a more sustainable and socially-minded business.

"We believed we could run a more sustainable business through everyday decision making," White said. "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 No. 15 to No. 7 .

CA Technologies, an IT management software company based in New York, moved from ninth to fifth place this year after rocketing from No. 46 in 2010.

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 No. 17 ranking in 2011 to a No. 10 ranking in 2012. Office Depot retained its place in the top 10, though it slid a notch from No. 8 to No. 9.

Other shifts downward on the U.S. list included the disappearance of two health care sector companies, Baxter and Johnson & Johnson, from the top 10. 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.