According to an article published by NBC News, in 2005 Walmart unveiled a plan to boost energy efficiency, cut down on waste and reduce greenhouse gases. The article quotes Chief Executive Lee Scott as saying that the retailer was looking to be a “good steward for the environment”. At the time, $500 million a year was to be directed towards tackling a number of initiatives that would make Walmart a better corporate citizen and significantly reduce the size of its carbon footprint.

To get a sense of how far the retailer has come over the last few years, we took a look at Walmart’s corporate website and here’s what we found!

Working towards a renewable tomorrow

In order to cut down down on energy use (and not so coincidentally, on costs), Walmart has committed to achieving 3 sustainability goals including: being supplied by 100% renewable energy; creating zero waste; and selling products that sustain people and the environment. Working towards their goal of running on 100% renewable energy, the superstore has undertaken a number of initiatives; take a look.
According to the store’s website, Walmart has more than 180 renewable energy projects in operation or development around the world, generating enough energy to power 78,000 homes annually. These projects include solar installations in seven countries, 26 fuel cell installations in the U.S, and testing on-site micro-wind, large-scale wind, solar water heating, and solar thermal around the world. Walmart also supports renewable energy efforts by purchasing green energy to power their stores and entering into long-term power purchase agreements (PPA) with developers.

Green building and lowering greenhouse gas emissions

Walmart has also adopted green building into its energy policies; from lighting and water conservation to refrigeration systems and building materials, the company has met their goal of creating a store prototype that was 25%-30% more efficient and is still rolling full steam ahead. As part of the initiative, the company took a big box interest in LEDs, installing energy-efficient LED lighting in buildings, parking lots and sales floors.

An unexpected contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, according to the company’s website, was refrigeration cases and walk-in coolers, accounting for 11% of overall emissions. In 2011, the company invested in the secondary loop refrigeration system, designed to increase efficiency, prevent leakage and reduce greenhouse gases by 95%. Other initiatives included the use of fly ash flooring, harvesting rainwater in India, and working in partnership with truck and component manufacturers to build prototype tractors that are more energy-efficient in function and design. Read more about their effort to combat greenhouse gas emissions here.

Positive changes towards a sustainable supply chain

An article by the Environmental Leader reported in 2010 that Walmart was making huge strides to clean up their supply chain, working with Chinese suppliers to improve energy efficient and lower environmental impacts. The goal? Cut supply chain emissions by 20 million metric tons by 2015. In 2008, the store had already suspended 126 suppliers for a year and shut down another 35, permanently.

While the retailer hasn’t quite reached their goal of reducing emissions by 20 million metric tons, they have managed to eliminate more than 120,000 metric tons of emissions with plans and projects in the works to reduce a further 16 million metric tons. The company advertises that it is currently seeking suppliers to partner with on supply chain innovation projects, alluding to the fact that perhaps this goal, will prove the most challenging in years to come.

For a complete list of energy saving initiatives, visit the Walmart website and discover ways that you and your business can save on energy and reduce costs.

image credit: Walmart Corporate