Walmart is truly a retail giant. The company has more than 100,000 suppliers, 2 million employees, and more than 8,000 retail stores around the world. When a company the size of Walmart makes a change towards a more sustainable business model, the effects can be wide-reaching. Walmart details some of these sustainability projects in its third annual global sustainability report, which covers green initiatives at the company from Feb. 1, 2009, through Jan. 31, 2010.

Walmart’s sustainability initiatives are guided by three main goals: to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy, to create zero waste, and to sell products that sustain both people and the environment. During the past year, Walmart has focused on the sustainability of its supply chain. This is a growing trend in the business world with Kaiser Permanente, IBM, and Procter & Gamble also initiating supply chain sustainability measurements.

In order to meet the company’s sustainability goals, Walmart is focusing its effort in many areas including green building. The company is focusing on improving energy efficiency in all of its retail locations. Last year, four high-efficiency (HE) stores were opened in the United States. These stores are expected to be 25 percent more efficient than the baseline store model used during 2005 measurements.

In order to realize this improved energy efficiency, the new stores feature a variety of new technologies including a water source heat pump that heats and cools the store by utilizing a refrigeration waste heat recovery system, the use of LED lighting in refrigerated and freezer cases, and in-floor radiant cooling systems in select markets.

Walmart is also in the middle of a solar energy project with a goal of having 20 solar arrays installed at California outlets by the end of 2010. Half of these were done by the end of January 2010 including the Apple Valley distribution center. The distribution center is Walmart’s largest solar panel power project with 5,300 solar panels installed over seven acres that will generate more than 2 million kilowatts annually.

The company has also invested in wind energy with 360 Texas facilities receiving wind-generated power from Duke Energy’s Notrees Wind Farm. In 2009, Walmart purchased more than 180 million kilowatts of renewable wind energy at these Texas locations. The company will continue its partnership with Duke Energy through 2012 with plans to explore wind and other renewable energy technologies.

Walmart’s commitment to green building extends beyond the United States. The 2010 sustainability report also highlights energy efficiency efforts underway around the world including a green wall on a retail store in Brazil, a green roof on a new store in Chile, and a low-carbon store model in the United Kingdom.

Of course Walmart’s sustainability report goes beyond energy-efficient buildings. The company also highlights its fleet efficiency, waste reduction efforts, the Sustainable Product Index, and much more. Download the entire report for more information: Walmart Global Sustainability Report – 2010 Progress Update (PDF).

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Wal-Mart and the environment

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