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February 20, 2013

Shareowners Pressure Companies on Use of Renewables
    by Robert Kropp

Most of the 13 resolutions target energy use in the information technology and real estate industry sectors, requesting improved reporting and commitments to increased renewable energy sourcing. -- Shareowners working with Ceres have filed 91 resolutions addressing climate and sustainability risks with 78 companies this proxy season. Following a report published in December by Ceres, Calvert Investments, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), 13 of those resolutions focus on the sourcing of renewable energy and improved energy efficiency.

According to the report, more than half of the 173 companies listed in the Fortune 100 and Global 100 have established greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals. However, only 24 companies have set specific goals for renewable energy use.

Resolutions filed this year by Green Century Capital Management and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) address renewable energy and energy efficiency in the information technology (IT) sector. As the energy demands of the IT sector increase, the sources of that energy will become a more important component in the battle against climate change.

Green Century has withdrawn the resolution it filed with IBM after the computer giant responded with further information on its policies. "Energy use is a key concern for many firms in the IT sector," Leslie Samuelrich of Green Century said. "We are pleased to see IBM commit to a rigorous approach to sourcing clean energy, which will help to reduce its greenhouse emissions."

Resolutions filed by CalSTRS, with Citrix Systems, Dun & Bradstreet, Electronic Arts and Fiserv, follow a letter sent by the pension fund to 100 companies last year, asking for more disclosure on their energy management practices. The resolutions call for increased energy efficiency planning and improved reporting.

"For large energy users like IT firms, inefficiency can be costly to shareholders," Brian Rice of CalSTRS said. "Investing in efficiency is an excellent option for many companies, with internal rates of return often approaching 20% or more."

The real estate sector is another industry whose energy use is heavy; it has been estimated that 40% of all GHG emissions in the US come from buildings. The New York City Office of the Comptroller has filed resolutions with Equity Residential, Kimco Realty, and SL Green Realty, requesting that the companies produce sustainability reports "addressing greenhouse gas emissions, water conservation, waste minimization, energy efficiency, and other environmental and social impacts the Board deems relevant to Company's business."

A resolution filed by Calvert with Public Storage, the world's largest owner and operator of self-storage facilities, was withdrawn after the company agreed to disclose more information about its energy use and management.

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