When big box stores make changes, the world takes notice.
And while sustainability isn’t exactly a word people always use when describing these megastores, some of these corporations are actually championing renewable resource solutions. These unlikely role models are setting a standard for growing businesses that having, and carrying out, a sustainability plan is no longer an option.
Walmart gets cozy with SolarCity
FastCompany.com reports that Walmart is slowly, but surely, incorporating solar energy into their stores and finding that this decision is making sense financially and sustainably. “Walmart has 150 solar installations in seven countries, as well as 26 fuel cell installations in the U.S. and a smattering of experimental micro-wind and large scale wind projects (hundreds of stores in Mexico also purchase wind power from Eléctrica del Valle de Mexico),” writes Ariel Schwartz.
They work with SolarCity for the majority of their solar installations with plans to place solar photovoltaic systems in 6,000 stores within the next six years. This shift out of fossil fuels and into solar will take a little time, as Walmart is still concerned with financial benefits, but in 2012 alone, they saved $2 million through solar installations. We would consider that a financial benefit!
Again, this decision could spark some changes for other companies and that is a trend we can get behind. Schwartz says,
“Every time Walmart makes a green commitment, it has reverberations throughout entire industry sectors. That’s just what happens when you’re the world’s largest corporation. And that’s why Walmart’s work in renewable energy could have a major impact.”(1)
Apple’s quest for zero
When it comes to business, sustainable manufacturing is one area where zeros are the goal. At Apple, through onsite renewable energy sources, like solar arrays and fuel cells, they are working towards 100% clean renewable energy for all of their facilities and data centres. So far, they’re doing pretty well with 75% renewable energy sources for these locations. Examples of these onsite sources include biogas-powered fuel cells and rooftop solar photovoltaic systems at their headquarters in Cupertino.(2)
IKEA’s solar initiatives have been making headlines, both through installing solar panels on their buildings and through selling solar panels to their UK customers, encouraging homeowners to use renewable resources for their household energy usage. (3)Following in their footsteps (or should we say footprint?), Costco joined the big box store sustainability movement by installing 2.5 megawatts of photovoltaics on four of Costco’s warehouse locations. In the US, Costco is in second place, after Walmart, for photovoltaic capacity installed.(4)
Wondering how the other big box stores measure up against each other? Well, IKEA tops the chart for geographic spread and percentage of facilities with solar power, but Walmart’s 215 solar power systems makes them the owners of the highest number of installations in the country.(5)