Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer has declared that it will pursue a path towards increased energy efficiency. Joining other large corporations recently announcing enviro-friendly campaigns (be they simple greenwashing or a real effort) including GE's 'Ecomagination' Campaign, Wal-Mart will announce specific environmental measures to reduce energy use in its thousands of stores and its truck fleet (the largest in the US) as well as to pressure its worldwide supply-chain of over 60,000 suppliers.
Wal-Mart plans to:
Don't be fooled into thinking Wal-Mart is doing this for our sake. This is simply a potent example of how increased energy costs have made energy efficiency an even more appealing prospect for many companies. As usual, the all-mighty dollar rules here.
This is an example of retailers getting squeezed by higher energy costs and deciding to pursue energy efficiency rather than passing on these costs to consumers. Companies like Wal-Mart, whose business plan is centered around moving large volumes at small profit-margins per transaction, are especially loath to raise prices and pass the buck on to consumers. They also stand to gain the most by increasing the efficiency of their supply fleet and stores. For example, increasing the fuel efficiency of Wal-Mart's transport fleet as outlined above will save the giant company an estimated $494 million dollars a year! With nearly half-a-billion dollars a year in savings within Wal-Mart's reach, it is easy to see how much promise energy efficiency measures hold for businesses.
While we shouldn't be fooled by the greenwashing campaign that will accompany these efficiency measures - Wal-Mart still isn't out for anyone's benefit but their stockholders, whose wallets will be fatter after these measures - it is good to see more companies recognizing that the 'low-hanging fruit' of energy efficiency is ripe for the picking. In the end, we will all benefit in the long run by companies waking up to the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency. So, as much as it pains me to say it, keep it up Wal-Mart.
[Edit: A hat tip to The Watt who scooped me on this one. I apologize for forgetting to give proper dues in the original post...]