Newsweek’s Green Rankings: 5 is the new 4

I was at a 40th birthday party this weekend where calls of “40 is the new 20” abounded. Ok, so maybe it would make a better soundbite if we were number one this year, or even 4 like last year. But I’m more than happy with 5.

News of Newsweek’s Green Rankings 2010 has been making its way around the blogosphere and twitter today. Dell topped the list this year, followed by HP, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, and then us. Not too shabby. But I thought that Joel Makower’s post this morning – on what the rankings mean and don’t mean – got it right. As these external rankings get more attention within companies, it’s important to keep them in perspective. I’m already getting multiple emails from people asking what the rating means, why certain companies did better than us and why some companies didn’t make the list at all. I imagine this is happening at many companies around the country (ok, I know it is since I’m getting pinged by them as well). But as Joel notes, it’s easy to over self-congratulate or to beat yourself up over falling a few spots, when in reality the raw scores among the top companies are pretty close. Next year, even if we improved our performance, we could just as easily find ourselves at #15 as other companies continue to improve their performance and raise the bar even higher. And that would really be just fine – because in the end, isn’t that the point?

I repeatedly tell my colleagues and others worried or skeptical about the many lists and disparities among them – what should matter to us is that: (1) we generally perform well across all the lists, that (2) we have longevity on those lists, and (3) that we do what we can each year to learn from the lists in the aggregate to improve our performance. The Newsweek list is interesting and useful because it draws on the expertise of multiple research firms and methodologies (MSCI, TruCost, and It includes a mix of quantitative factors, qualitative assessments of policies, disclosure quality, and external reputation assessments. In the end, I think our best chances for getting better at measuring what is often so hard to measure, is combining multiple assessments and perspectives into our assessment of companies. There’s a lot of great work being done by rating companies today, raters who are interestingly also now subject to similar assessments as the companies they rate – check out the Rate the Raters project being completed by SustainAbility for more background on the challenges and best practices in the sustainability rating industry today.

All that said, I am at the end of the day incredibly proud of Intel’s performance on this and many of the other lists out there (including our inclusion at the #12 spot in last week’s 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Index by BCCCC and Reputation Institute). In my view, we do well because of our track record of disclosure and transparency, as well as our continued performance improvements led by employees all across our company, in different departments, and at many different levels. We’re certainly not perfect – no company is. But we are on a path to continue to mature corporate responsibility and sustainability practices within our company. From our renewable energy purchase commitment to linking a portion of our employee pay to environmental factors to including corporate responsibility directly in our global strategy, we strive to find new ways to embed these more deeply into our business practices. To learn more about our sustainability efforts, read our latest corporate responsibility report.

3 Responses to Newsweek’s Green Rankings: 5 is the new 4

  1. Marcy Brandenburg says:

    UNBELIEVEABLE?! Intel Has been Poisoning the Community Surrounding It’s Rio Rancho, New Mexico Plant for more than 2 Decades and they win yet another Environmental Award! Who is the Recipient of Payment I must Inquire? Or Perhaps there is Another Payoff.
    If you seek the Real Truth, go to will lead you to the Corrales section and to the horror story Our Community has Suffered the past 2 plus decades.
    A village of approximately 8000 residents has a Pulmonary Fibrosis (an extremely rare lung disease) rate 8 Times that of the National Average!
    Intel is no more than a Chemical Plant. They utilize more than 250 Volatile Organic Compounds and are Legally Permitted to Release 95 tons of Hazard Air Pollutants each year on it’s Neighboring Residents.
    Finally after years of suffering, EPA Region 6 conducted an “Unannounced” on-site visit and confirmed the same details residents had been complaining about for years.
    The Permit Intel Operates under in the State of New Mexico is a Sham Permit and will not Protect the Community. Intel could kill tens of thousands of residents and still be in Compliance with their Permit.
    We, in New Mexico, may be a little like the Old West but we are not Ignorant Enough to Believe Intel is Capable of Anything to do with GREEN.
    Perhaps if Newsweek really wanted to report a Story, they should contact the Corrales Residents for Clean Air and Water and learn of their Decades-Long Plight dealing with the Largest Corporation in the World and the Governmental and Political Stonewalling they Have Encountered.
    Now that’s a story of the People, by the People, for the People. And it’s Truly News!

  2. Fred Marsh says:

    I was shocked to see Newsweek give a high green rating to Intel Corporation. It’s obvious that the Newsweek crew has never lived near an Intel plant, as I have, nor have they had to breathe the thousands of tons of toxic emissions Intel has released from its Rio Rancho, NM plant. Unlike Newsweek, who relied on information supplied by Intel, EPA recently did on on-site inspection of this Intel facility.
    EPA’s just-released 727-page report is a scathing indictment of Intel and the state agencies that gave Intel a flawed permit, which EPA says gives Intel such high limits that the permit is impossible to violate.
    The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) permit specialist called the Intel permit a “sham,” and the process that produced it a “farce.” Six whistle-blowers – three from Intel and three from NMED revealed the extent of Intel’s pollution, but refused to be part of the cover-up demanded by their employer.
    A detailed account of our battle to restore the clean air that we had before Intel’s arrival is documented in the book, “Boiling Frogs by Barbara Rockwell.”
    Below are the reviews of “Boiling Frogs” by two readers:
    * * * * *
    As a Corrales resident, I know “Boiling Frogs” is an accurate record of what it’s like to live near a major industrial polluter. As more and more residents became sick from Intel’s toxic emissions, they asked the state Environment Dept. to help them. But the Environment Dept. is run by political appointees who, instead of helping the public, authorized Intel to release even higher levels of their deadly chemicals into the air we breathe. Seeking help from the Environment Department was like asking the local police department for help, and then finding the police department is controlled by the Mafia.
    Six whistle-blowers, three from Intel and three from the state Environment Department have gone public to expose Intel’s elaborate campaign to cover up the extent and toxicity of their emissions. Yet New Mexico politicians and state agencies continue to act as Intel puppets while Intel expands its operations and increases its airborne poisons. Everyone concerned about the environment and the power of big corporations to poison their neighbors should read this factual account of the experience of Corrales residents as they were repeatedly betrayed by the officials and agencies who should have protected them.
    * * * * *
    “Boiling Frogs,” by Barbara Rockwell, is a disturbing account of the environmental and human costs of 25 years of Intel expansion and pollution on the rural village of Corrales.
    This book reveals the inside story of how a quaint community in New Mexico with pristine air came to realize that chip making was not a “clean industry” as touted by Intel and State environmental regulators interested in closing a $2 billion deal. A deal that was being competitively bid by a ruthless Intel across the United States and around the world. A deal that promised thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in revenue for the winner.
    Rockwell describes how New Mexico, a state not equipped to handle the sophisticated regulatory needs of such a rapidly changing and complex industry, made huge concessions from the start to ensure the winning bid. The State of New Mexico responded with a package Intel couldn’t refuse.
    But, what the State failed to factor into the package were the health and quality of life issues that started to surface soon after the “Giant on the Hill” began increasing toxic air emissions. Toxic emissions that were mysteriously sickening nearby residents and forcing them from their homes!
    In her riveting memoir and historical accounting, Rockwell details blow by blow what she, as one of the founders of a citizens advocacy group (CRCAW), and the citizens had to do to force concessions from Intel to clean up their toxic emissions and get the State regulators to do their jobs.
    This is a true story about how difficult it can be to get a multi-billion dollar corporation that controls State and local politicians to clean up their act when they won’t admit they are at fault.

  3. Maybe Intel can move up the green ladder by incorporating the most energy efficient wall systems in their new facilities. However, they will not be able to, unless we can contact the people in facilities design.
    I spent about an hour trying to track down someone who could provide me with a contact person within the facilities design team. The end result was that no one could help me.
    Does anyone know who I can reach within Intel to tell them about insulated thermal mass wall systems, which typically deliver HVAC energy savings of over 60%, compared to conventionally built buildings? Insulated concrete block puts the insulation in the correct place, which exposes thermal mass to the building’s interior, which in turn moderates the interior air temperature. Thanks! Marty

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