Wal-Mart has always been an early adapter of technologies that drive efficiencies, and when it comes to technology that can make our buildings more energy efficient, the same holds true. Today, we are exploring and integrating cutting-edge technologies that are reshaping the way we heat, cool and light our buildings, as well as the way we refrigerate food in our stores. We are committed to reaching a day when every new store is 30 percent more energy-efficient than it was in 2005.
Our efforts aren’t just limited to new stores. In our existing stores, we are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent. These are important steps in our journey to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy.
To serve as our testing ground for new innovations, in 2005, we opened two experimental stores in McKinney, Texas and Aurora, Colo. In these stores, we are testing innovative technologies like solar and wind power, bio-fuel heating systems, daylight harvesting and radiant heat technology to reduce our reliance on non-renewable energy. We are also testing porous concrete in parking lots to absorb rainwater and prevent runoff into neighboring streams and creeks. In sum, more than 50 experiments are being tested and many – such as the light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that we use in building external signage and are starting to be installed in new refrigerator and freezer cases across the country – have already proven successful.
As our intent is to make all of our stores more efficient, we took the learnings from our experimental stores to open two high-efficiency prototype stores this year in Kansas City, Mo. and Rockton, Ill. We expect these stores to be 20 percent more energy efficient than the typical Supercenter. In 2008, we plan to begin opening a second-generation high-efficiency prototype, incorporating the learnings from the first generation, which we anticipate to be 25 percent more efficient. Our goal is to open a viable prototype by 2009 that is up to 30 percent more energy efficient.
We are also piloting a solar power project in 22 locations throughout California and Hawaii. When fully implemented, the aggregate purchase could be one of the top 10 largest-ever solar power purchases in the United States, if not the world.
At existing stores and Clubs, we are retrofitting many of our systems to achieve our greenhouse gas reduction goal. We have already tested and identified innovations that, when implemented, are expected to deliver a 15 percent decrease in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. These innovations are primarily the result of efficiency gains in improved lighting, HVAC and refrigeration units, and help move us toward our global goal of making existing stores 20 percent more efficient by 2012.
Minimizing the environmental footprint of our buildings depends on much more than achieving energy efficiency, so we are expanding our focus to include building materials, construction waste, water use and more. By the end of 2007, our goal is to identify, implement and test 50 non-energy-related innovations for our stores that will conserve resources. Those innovations could include water conservation, rainwater harvesting, use of United States Green Building Code-recognized materials or construction debris recycling. One of the areas we have already identified and are testing is water use. Newly installed restroom sinks in many Wal-Mart stores use sensor-activated, low-flow faucets that reduce water flow by approximately 80 percent. Through technologies such as these, we believe we can dramatically decrease water use.
While we have focused the majority of our efforts on U.S. operations, where our footprint is the largest, we are making great strides to improve the energy efficiency of our stores worldwide. For example, our Mexico operations have begun building wastewater treatment plants for all certain new Supercenters, Sam’s Clubs, Mi Bodega Aurreras and Superamas, which saved more than 1.1 million cubic meters of potable water from 2004 to 2006. Additionally, a "two-thirds" lighting program helped us reduce in-store lighting by 33 percent and electricity consumption by 6,000 megawatt hours (MWh) in our Ontario, Canada stores during 2006.
In August of 2007, ASDA opened its first store with a sustainable timber frame. The store, located in Shaw, Oldham, marks ASDA’s commitment to investing in and piloting new environmental technologies over the coming years. The 35,000-square-foot structure is situated within the old Dawn Mill – a 105-year-old brick cotton mill, which formerly housed a clothing outlet. By using wood from certified sources rather than steel, the building’s design eliminated the need for 500 tons of steel and will save 450 tons of carbon emissions. The store will also be 20 percent more energy efficient.
We are proud of what we have accomplished in this space, but we can’t ignore the fact that our carbon emissions increase as we build more stores, Clubs and distribution centers. In the United States, the energy needed to operate buildings accounts for roughly two-thirds of our electricity and more than 35 percent of the air pollution we emit. To move the carbon needle, we need to work together as an industry, a nation and a world to push for innovation in alternative sources of energy. As it stands, alternative sources are still more costly and far less available than carbon-based fuels, and without innovation and collaboration, this reality will not change.
Wal-Mart Video Center
Solar Power Pilot Project
As part of a pilot project to determine solar power viability for Wal-Mart, we recently announced a major project to produce solar power on the roofs of our stores for 22 combined Wal-Mart locations in California and Hawaii. The total solar power production from these sites is estimated to be as much as 17 million kWh (kilowatt-hours) per year and will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 8,000 to 10,000 metric tons per year. On average, the typical solar photovoltaic (PV) system will provide up to 20.5 percent of the electricity needs of the store. Installation of the first system began on August 27, 2007 at the Santa Ana, Calif. Wal-Mart.
Sharing our Learnings
What we learn from our experimental and high-efficiency stores should not just remain within our own four walls. To truly be a leader, we must share what we learn with the industry and the marketplace. To that end, we have actively invited our competitors and others to tour our stores and openly shared our engineering specifications and learnings with competitors, universities and government officials. We recently installed the first CO2 closed-loop secondary refrigeration system in a U.S. Sam’s Club, and many of our direct competitors came to see it. Internally, we recognize the need to do better at leveraging our knowledge as a company. So today we’re developing an internal portal where international units can collaborate, as well as share plans and lessons learned.