Magazines Archives - 2008 March
The Wal-Mart story: Making Sustainability Sustainable
LESLIE DACH, Wal-Marts executive vice-president of corporate affairs and government relations, told the story of his companys determination to set Making Sustainability Sustainable as the goal for its entire business operations.
The focus, of course, is the US retailers ongoing efforts as a green company that aims to be 100% powered by renewable energy, to create zero waste and to sell products made with sustainable resources, said Dach. Wal- Mart sees no conflict between being a sustainable company running on everyday low costs and a business modelled on everyday low prices, he maintained.
This retail players new generation of energy-efficient supercentres, dubbed HE.2, are designed to improve on the 20% energy savings of HE.1, its first-generation model which opened a year ago in Kansas City.
The first HE.2 store was set up in Romeoville, Illinois. The objective, Dach revealed, is to have all 2,400 US Wal-Mart supercentres use 25%-30% less energy than that consumed by a typical store in 2005.
Wal-Mart, which acknowledges being the worlds largest private energy consumer, has made it the companys mission to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity. It has redesigned its trucks to incorporate aerodynamic fins and cut back on the power consumption of its refrigeration systems.
The retailer also seeks to work with vendors on new packaging designs to eliminate waste, and encourage the development of new products that are more energy-efficient, as in the effort to reduce energy usage in flat-screen TVs by 2010. Its bid to sell 100 million energyefficient fluorescent light bulbs in 2007 was said to have exceeded expectations, with over 137 million bulbs sold.
Indeed, Wal-Mart is poised to work with other retailers on solutions to tackle the greenhouse-gas issue, Dach said, urging them to create metrics and report on these. He called on retailers to challenge and inform suppliers of their look-out for environment-friendly solutions, adding that as retailers, we believe we can make a difference.
Following NRF 2008, Wal-Mart announced two solar-energy projects in partnership with SunEdison. One is a 283kW DC solar power system at Sams Club in Honolulu which is expected to achieve immediate savings on current utility rates. During the first full year, the rooftop system will produce more than 444,000kW hours of solar power, and is expected to cut in excess of 7.3 million pounds of greenhouse gases over 10 years.
A similar project is under way at a Wal-Mart store in Chino, California, using solar roof tiles said to be over 50% more efficient than conventional solar panels. The solar-energy systems are regarded major steps towards the retailers vision of running on 100% renewable energy.