At Walmart, we are determined to make a difference on the big issues that matter.
In the area of sustainability, our size and scope as the world’s largest retailer empower us to make a real impact. Energy is one of three key sustainability priority areas in which the company has made great strides – and we are committed to doing much, much more.
Manuel Gómez Pena, vice president, sustainability, for Walmart Stores.
Today, Walmart is the largest on-site green power generator in the United States, and renewable energy accounts for about 25 percent of our buildings’ electricity needs. In fact, we have installed nearly 300 solar energy systems in the U.S., each providing up to 30 percent of a store’s electricity needs.
Not bad, right? Well, we say … not good enough. Yet.
Walmart is pursuing two ambitious goals by 2020. We hope to drive the production or procurement of 7 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy globally every year, a 600 percent increase over 2010 levels. We intend to reduce the kilowatt-hours per square foot of energy intensity required to power Walmart’s buildings globally by 20 percent compared to 2010 levels. How we plan on getting there is important. But why we’re doing it is even more important.
Walmart realizes the sheer impact our size can have on our planet, with more than two million associates, over 100,000 suppliers and more than 11,000 retail stores serving millions of shoppers. So we have an obligation to leverage our global presence and vast network of business partners to do what is best for our customers and communities.
Not only is it good for the planet, it is also right for our business. Finding cleaner and more affordable energy is an operational imperative that drives down costs. And, by creating efficiencies in our own operations, we’re saving even more. The easiest path to a smaller footprint is to consume less energy. These bottom-line benefits translate into even lower costs for our customers.
Currently, we are focused on scaling our renewable energy program and have more than 300 projects and programs in place. For instance, 26 U.S. fuel cell sites run on bio-natural gas, and can provide up to 60 percent of a store’s energy requirements. Also, several wind farms and a new 508,750 megawatt-hour plant are feeding more than 1,000 Walmart facilities in Mexico.
But there are still challenges to achieving our goals. In some markets, efforts are slowed by the high price and low availability of renewable technology, and by outdated government policies. We are working diligently with developers, suppliers, industry associations and regulators to create an environment that supports widespread adoption of sustainability efforts.
Given the progress made to date and our ongoing leadership commitment, we are confident we can work with all stakeholders to advance toward our aspirational goal of one day being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy. While working toward our goal, we have demonstrated that we can grow our business while slowing our environmental impact — effectively uncoupling our growth from our greenhouse gas emissions.
And that energy-specific goal is a key component in maintaining and improving our overarching objective as a company – to help people save money, so they can live better.
Manuel Gómez Pena is vice president, sustainability, for Walmart Stores, and leads Walmart’s global sustainability efforts across more than 11,000 retail units under 69 banners in 27 countries.