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Wal-Mart Ramps Up the Green Factor at New Stores in Canada

New Wal-Mart stores in Canada will slash energy consumption by 30 percent under a high-efficiency design program that takes effect in February.

Wal-Mart Canada President and CEO David Cheesewright detailed the plan this week at a conference of 1,600 Ontario municipal leaders.

The initiative that Cheesewright calls Wal-Mart HE aligns with a campaign among Canadian cities for more energy efficient buildings and is the latest step by Wal-Mart toward its environmental goals. The firm wants to become a zero-waste business and be powered 100 percent by renewable energy, in addition to offering increasingly more eco-friendly products to customers.

The new high-efficiency stores are to feature the capture of waste heat from refrigerators in order to heat other areas in stores, waste reduction resulting from revamping the way frozen foods are stocked, improved lighting efficiency through use of automation systems and LED lights, centralizing and automating HVAC, deployment of carbon dioxide monitoring systems, and rethinking building design so stores are greener in terms of size, materials used and in-store logistics.

According to Reuters news service, Cheesewright said the new high-efficiency stores would result in savings of C$25 million ($24 million U.S.) in a five-year period.

The program launches February 1, the start of Wal-Mart’s fiscal year.

The company is already also exploring other new efficiency strategies such as daylight harvesting, which is being done at a store in Burlington, Ontario, and in at least three U.S. stores — one each in Texas, Colorado and Nevada. Harvesting involves an automated monitoring and control system that varies the amount of artificial light used based on the amount of natural light that streams in through skylights and windows. The Burlington store also has geothermal heating.

"Some might say we're just another company trying to endear itself to the Canadian public by hopping on the green movement,” Cheesewright said in his talk before the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. “That perspective misses the point. Our focus on sustainability is as beneficial to our business as it is to the environment. For Wal-Mart, there is no distinction between environmental sustainability and business sustainability — it's the same thing."

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