At Walmart, we have just completed our fifth annual carbon emissions compilation and public submission of our greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint. For the third straight year since its inception, we have been included in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Leadership Index. Every year this emissions reporting process is a multi-month effort, working with 16 countries, more than 8,500 retail facilities with dozens of different formats, hundreds of offices and distribution facilities, trucking fleets and airplane fleets – and it usually includes a few surprises. For example, who knew we owned chicken ranches in Costa Rica? Or micro-restaurants in Japan? With a company this size, there’s always the potential for some unexpected emission sources. The more generally expected culprits – electricity, natural gas, propane, diesel, gasoline and refrigerant usages at our retail outlets – are now all captured at a detailed facility level.
Our footprint is currently represented by more than 5 million data points, and every year the data gets more complete and complex. Getting through all that data is no longer possible on a spreadsheet. We’ve had to move our data to a database and enlist the help of some real data handling experts. Although at times still difficult to manipulate and analyze, the data contains a wealth of valuable information that helps us target inefficiencies and find operational savings. Acting on that information directly translates into saving our customers money. It is something we work hard to do here – serve our customers better by removing inefficiency. Two examples of this that you can see every day in our stores and clubs are the pioneering work we did in moving from HID (high intensity discharge) lighting to fluorescents for general store lighting and the installation of doors and LED (light emitting diode) lighting on low temperature refrigeration cases.
And we’re saving ourselves money, too: by focusing on reducing greenhouse gas, Walmart is saving more than $150 million dollars in energy and refrigerant expenses each year. In fact, our rate of emissions growth and our overall emission levels have decreased as we continue to grow as a company. We are reaching more customers and members more efficiently than ever, serving them over 200 million times per week with products and practices that help sustain the environment.
The adage, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” has proven true for us. By capturing our information at a detailed level, we know better how to attack greenhouse gas reduction. We now know that if you want to reduce GHG in Brazil, you’ll get much more bang for your greenhouse gas buck by tackling refrigerants before electricity. With 85 percent of Brazil’s electricity generated from zero-carbon hydroelectricity, electricity reduction projects have little impact on the footprint. But you will move the needle when you prevent refrigerant leaks or switch to refrigerants that have a lower global warming potential (GWP).
We know we have achieved real reductions and our successes within our own footprint have inspired us to help others start a similar journey. We realize that as big as our own internal opportunity is (roughly 20 million metric tonnes), it is dwarfed by our supply chain – the companies that manufacture, package and transport the products we sell in our stores and clubs. We have the ability and desire to continue our own reductions while using what we’ve learned to help our suppliers to do the same. Our goal is to save our customers money – and doing so as efficiently and environmentally responsibly as possible.
Greg Trimble is Senior Director, Global Energy Development, Walmart Stores. He has over twenty two years of experience in the power and natural gas industries, both in the regulated and deregulated arenas. Greg joined Walmart in 2002 as the Director of Energy Procurement where he was responsible for over $1.5 billion in annual energy purchases. Greg led the successful development of Walmart’s internal retail electric provider function in the deregulated market of Texas in order to purchase wholesale electric power directly for Walmart’s own consumption. Prior to joining Walmart, Greg held a number of leadership and staff positions at Enron Energy Services and Tennessee Gas Pipeline. Greg’s current responsibilities include the development of renewable and energy saving technologies and leveraging those technologies globally throughout Walmart’s domestic and international operations. He is leading Walmart’s sustainability efforts with respect to quantifying and tracking Walmart’s carbon emissions reduction activities. Greg earned a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Houston, and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas.