Sunday, March 25, 2007

Wal-Mart & Energy Use

In the largest company on earth, using one percent of the country’s electricity, energy savings has been embraced as a sound business strategy and where Wal-Mart goes, many will follow.

Kudo’s all around, to Wal-Mart and the national environmental advocacy group helping them, Environmental Defense, and the many Wal-Mart consumers (count our family among them) also embracing good energy use along with great prices.

Wal-Mart sees the light
Chain cutting energy use -- and its bills
By Jim Downing - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, March 25, 2007

Store manager Joe Sanders squinted up at the sunny rectangles that march across the ceiling of the Wal-Mart in Dixon.

"I really didn't believe in the skylights" at first, he said.

It's a simple concept, now standard in new Wal-Marts: Let the sun shine on the store floor, dim the fluorescent bulbs and cut daytime lighting costs by as much as 80 percent.

But it hasn't been without hassles.

"(The lights) used to go completely out," Sanders said. When he took over his first store with skylights, in Palmdale in 2005, a bug in the control system for the overhead lights left things gloomy.

For Sanders, though, just flipping on the lights wasn't an option. His job depended on making the skylight system work as intended: The store's electric bill was part of his performance review. "The home office is really pushing this," he said.

Looking to reduce operational costs, boost a public image scarred by criticism of its labor practices and aggressive expansion, and reverse a long -- if gradual -- stock slide, Wal-Mart has over the past year taken on climate-friendliness as both a rallying cry and a business strategy.

With more than 3,900 stores and distribution centers across the country, Wal-Mart is the nation's biggest electricity user outside the federal government. As public and government concern about global warming grows, Wal-Mart and many other businesses are taking stock of their greenhouse gas footprint.