Big corporations don’t come much bigger than Walmart, and the steps they’ve taken to reduce their energy use and shrink their carbon footprint are nothing short of spectacular. Walmart is on target (whoops, didn’t mean to plug a competitor) to hit its goal next year of cutting kilowatt-hours per square foot by 20% from its 2010 baseline. When you look at the amount of electricity that more than 11,000 Wal-Mart stores, clubs and distribution centers use for heating, air conditioning, lighting (both indoors and in those huge parking lots), refrigeration and electronics, that 20% reduction makes a real difference in our environment by avoiding a lot of generation and the carbon that goes with it. And the cost savings produced by reducing its electric use helps Walmart make good on its promise of keeping prices low for its customers.
But maybe the best part of the Walmart story is how their stores and distribution centers act as laboratories to test new energy efficiency technologies. By experimenting with innovative equipment that cuts the amount of power needed to run their stores, Walmart helps those equipment manufacturers develop their products from the testing stage to full commercialization. This kind of selfless behavior brings new and more advanced energy efficiency technologies to market faster because they’ve been proven effective in real-life situations. It would be a good thing for more large corporations to follow Walmart’s lead and open their doors to some of the next-generation energy efficiency technologies in need of testing and development. So the next time someone asks you where you discovered the latest advance in energy-saving equipment, you can proudly tell them “I found it at Walmart”.