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Published on April 23rd, 2013 | by Adam Johnston

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Walmart Targets Ambitious Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency Standards By 2020



Walmart recently announced it is accelerating its target of being run on 100% renewable energy, and shaping their reputation as a leader in corporate sustainable development.

At last week’s Walmart Global Sustainability Milestone meeting, company President and CEO Mike Duke said the retail giant plans to get or create 7 billion kWh of annual global renewable energy by December 31, 2020. That’s a 600% advance over 2010 levels.

Walmart Wind Turbine Mexico

Image Credit: Wind Turbine via Flickr (Some Rights Reserved)

Meanwhile, Walmart expects to drop the kWh/sq. ft. energy intensity by 20% from 2010 levels in powering their buildings worldwide.

When fully implemented, the plan will mean huge savings for the company and the planet. Walmart expects annual savings of $1 billion, while cutting nine million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

“More than ever, we know that our goal to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy is the right goal and that marrying up renewables with energy efficiency is especially powerful,” Duke said.

“The math adds up pretty quickly – when we use less energy that’s less energy we have to buy, and that means less waste and more savings. These new commitments will make us a stronger business, and they’re great for our communities and the environment,” he said.

Once vilified by many environmentalists, Walmart’s transformation from an environmental bully to a sustainability champion has been remarkable.

In the 2005 documentary Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices, critically acclaimed filmmaker Robert Greenwald exposed the company’s lackluster environmental practices.

However, a 2005 rafting trip between than company CEO Lee Scott and sustainability expert Jib Ellison was the beginning of Walmart’s environmental makeover. Ellison made the case to Scott that sustainable development was not about being a hippie. Rather, it was about efficiency, and cutting waste.

Walmart since then have taken Ellison’s words to heart:

  • For example, the company has saved $2 million to date, from 200 US solar projects.
  • Walmart has more solar systems and solar capacity than all the other companies in the US.
  • Walmart and SolarCityannounced in March they are putting up 6 million kWh of solar energy in 12 Ohio locations, including various Sam’s Club locations.
  • 17% of Walmart’s energy use and 21% of its electricity now from renewable sources.

While critics should rightfully have concerns about some of Walmart’s practices, their commitment towards renewable energy is a good guide for other corporate leaders who are on the fence on environmental sustainability. A push from a retail giant could be enough for other corporate leaders to get in the game.

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About the Author

A University of Winnipeg graduate who received a three year B.A. with a combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications. Currently attempting to be a freelance social media coordinator. My eventual goal is to be a clean tech policy analyst down the road while I sharpen my skills as a renewable energy writer. Currently working on a book on clean tech and how to relate it to a broader audience. You can follow me on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or at www.adammjohnston.wordpress.com



  • Notehead

    Perhaps with all of the money they’ll save, Walmart can put some effort into becoming a BETTER company (i.e.: paying a living wage) rather than simply a BIGGER one. Their value as a leader in implementing sustainable energy is considerable, but overall they are still a force of evil. Maybe some people are swayed by being able to buy lace doilies and ammo for rock-bottom prices in the same place, but I personally would rather pay another dime or quarter per item in a store that takes better care of its people.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      One can dream…

  • Aaron Russell

    Hell Yeah!

  • RSMills

    Walmart may save the world… Sounds some how wrong but true. Global business leaders follow every move that Walmart makes and are fighting to implement their every move as fast as they can. Once Walmart proves the case for efficiency and solar watch out! Next step for Mr Ellison is explain the case for EV’s trucking their goods and the savings from generating their fuel from solar. Looks good to me!

    • Bob_Wallace

      Goes along with something I’ve been saying for several years – big business is bringing us world peace. As companies become more and more global war becomes a money-looser. It disrupts supply chains and markets.

      Whether we like it or not big corporations swing a lot of weight. If major businesses like Walmart and Ikea move to renewables they’ll drag a lot of others along with them.

  • JustSaying

    Its a good lesson, that needs to be shared. Walmart didn’t go green to warm the heart, they went green to save MONEY! If being green helped with press that was a side benefit. This is the way to push it to most companies.

    • Bob_Wallace

      This ties into Macy’s Department Stores moving to LEDs a couple of years back. They discovered they could save significant money from both electricity purchases and bulb-replacement labor.

      Businesses saving money may help to save our butts.

      • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

        yep, several companies jumping into this now. IKEA, Kohl’s…

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Yep, completely agree!

  • EcoFerris

    People | Planet | Profit or in Wal-mart’s case Profit | People | Planet…who cares about the order as long as its towards a more sustainable future.Maybe Jib Ellison should schedule a rafting trip with the CEO of Monsanto.

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