Sustainability 59: Walmart
When the world’s largest retailer strives toward a sustainable world, we all reap the benefits. Here are some of the ways in which Walmart is helping to fashion a better tomorrow:
Building design is beginning to reflect Walmart’s commitment to sustainability. So far, 30 of the company’s stores have been fitted with solar panels capable of supplying up to 30 percent of a store’s energy demand. A great many more of the company’s stores have also been fitted with skylight systems to employ greater use of natural daylighting, thereby reducing overall energy use.
Other components of building and site design — everything from cool roofs and increased insulation, to the use of fly ash in concrete, xeriscaping (low-water-use landscaping), reduced water use, and pervious pavings — also advance the firm’s sustainability mission. Walmart also continues to experiment with a variety of cutting-edge building materials and technologies aimed at a more sustainable future.
Walmart is increasingly relying on wind power to meet some of its substantial annual energy needs. The Duke Energy Wind Farm, consisting of 95 wind turbines atop several-hundred-foot-tall masts, arrayed about 20 miles west of Odessa, Texas, will feed the energy diet of over 350 Walmart facilities throughout the state. The company asserts that their use of renewable energy has thus far been the equivalent of taking 25,000 cars off the nation’s roads.
Sustainability at Walmart moves beyond its buildings and sites. The company has recently made great strides in reducing overall packaging requirements for many of its products. It has also adopted sophisticated tracking, routeing, management and loading processes for its sizable fleet of delivery vehicles, to minimize overall fossil fuel use and contribution to air pollution.
Walmart’s great size and buying power also give it great clout in shifting its vendors and suppliers toward a greener future. By contracting directly with organic farmers, for example, Walmart has been able to drive the eventual customer price of its organic lettuce down to that of non-organic lettuce, giving us all one more natural and sustainable option in life.