World Wildlife Fund Sustainability Works


From Transactions to Transformation: More companies commit to renewable energy

  • Date: 27 October 2014
  • Author: Letha Tawney, WRI; Bryn Baker, WWF; and Martin A. Spitzer, WWF

The momentum is building around companies putting sustainable practices into action.

In July, 12 companies signed on to the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles in an effort to increase large-scale access to renewable energy. Now, seven new companies have joined, bringing the total to 19 large global brands with a combined renewable energy demand of more than 10 million megawatt-hours (MWhs) per year in the United States alone. That’s enough electricity to power nearly 1 million homes annually.

By declaring their commitment to buying renewable energy, these new companies -- 3M, Adobe, eBay, EMC, Cisco, Novo Nordisk and Volvo -- are not only taking control of their energy costs, but are also helping to reshape markets so other large and small companies can meet their public climate and energy goals, all of which means less greenhouse gas pollution in the atmosphere.
Here’s a look at why companies are signing onto the Principles, and how they can help scale up renewable energy throughout the corporate sector.

What Are the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles?

The Principles frame the challenges and common needs of large renewable energy buyers. They emerged from discussions that World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and World Resources Institute (WRI) had with companies about what was slowing them down in meeting their renewable energy targets. Complicated transactions and inadequate options from their utilities emerged at the top of the list.
The companies developed these principles to both state their commitment to renewable power and shine a light on the challenges they face in procuring it. They’re intended to foster a dialogue with utilities, regulators, and other stakeholders to create a marketplace that facilitates greater renewable energy use in the corporate sector.


Why now?

Here’s what some signatories are saying about why they’re adopting the Buyers’ Principles…

“One of our key strategies to reduce Cisco’s emissions and meet our aggressive sustainability goals is to utilize renewable energy, both by producing it at our facilities and by purchasing it from our energy suppliers. Although we have drastically increased our onsite solar capacity over the past few years, it is not enough. We need greater access to cost-competitive renewable energy and joining the Buyers’ Principles provides us an opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading companies to make this a reality.” -- Andy Smith, Manager of Global Energy Management and Sustainability, Cisco

“eBay Inc. is committed to reducing our company’s impact on global climate change. Transitioning our operations to cleaner forms of energy is essential in achieving that goal. We believe the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles are a practical roadmap for addressing the challenges companies like ours face when trying to expand our clean energy portfolios, and that their wide adoption can substantially accelerate the process not only for eBay Inc., but for businesses across the United States.” -- Lori Duvall, Global Director, Green Social Innovation, eBay Inc.

“We are standing with other companies to encourage utilities and governments to help make this cleaner-air future a reality. Cost competitiveness and broad geographic availability of renewable energy are two of the biggest issues limiting mainstream adoption, and these principles help address these obstacles.” -- Gayle Schueller, Vice President of Global Sustainability, 3M

“The Buyers Principles provide EMC with a useful framework for evaluating opportunities for renewables in our own operations. They also provide a powerful foundation for collaborating with energy providers and our peers to increase the quantity, availability and economic attractiveness of renewables to a wider range of businesses.” -- Kathrin Winkler, Chief Sustainability Officer, EMC

“We joined a group putting these principles together to help encourage a more productive dialogue with people that are experts at renewables -- the utility companies and the developers -- so that people like us can focus on our business expertise -- making candy and pet food.” -- Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Director of Sustainability, Mars, Inc.

“The principles do an incredibly good job of laying out the situation for corporate buyers and how we overcome these problems to increase our overall purchases of renewable energy in the U.S.” – Amy Hargroves, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Sprint


What are the challenges companies face in using renewable energy?

“Companies have different sized energy departments and expertise within those departments to work their way through some fairly complicated contractual arrangements and how to buy and sell power ….One of the most important reasons for going forward publicly with these principles is to let everyone in the field know our concerns and some smaller mechanical issues that we think need to be fixed to make transactions a little easier.” – David Ozment, Director of Energy, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

“Right now there are so many barriers for speeding up our procurement because so much of what we are trying to do hasn’t been done before. So what we’re trying to do is say let’s get the companies together who have been hard at work trying to buy renewable energy, share lessons and raise our voice to accelerate progress.” – Amy Hargroves, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Sprint


Where are we headed?

“…what we’re trying to do here is change from disconnected background noise and message to a very clear call for trying to move forward.” -- Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Director of Sustainability, Mars, Inc.

“We are very interested in greater involvement from the energy regulators and utility companies. They clearly do have the expertise and the scale that is required to drive the greatest change in renewable energy deployment in the U.S. We need to get them actively involved in a partnership to identify what solutions both meet their needs and our needs so we can have the greatest win.” – Amy Hargroves, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Sprint

To learn more about the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles and find out how to sign on, please visit our website.


The views expressed in this blog do not necesarily reflect those of WWF.