Sustainability

Seeking: Leading Companies to Drive Renewable Energy Revolution

Editor's Note: Earlier this month, Walmart joined Bloomberg, Facebook, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Novelis, Procter and Gamble, REI, and Sprint in signing the Renewable Energy Buyer’s Principles. The goal of these Principles is to increase availability of cost-competitive renewable energy to run their businesses and better communicate their purchasing needs and expectations to the marketplace. 

What can rotary dial telephones, cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and door to door milk delivery teach us about the renewable energy revolution? They show us how once commonplace products and services have and will always be replaced by newer ones. It’s not farfetched to say 2014 is to renewable energy what 1955 was to the CRT TV – the golden age of renewable energy is just now upon us.

Many of America’s largest companies are also convinced that a clean energy future is what they want, and they’ve set significant goals to get there. In fact, 43% of Fortune 500 companies have set renewable energy and efficiency targets, and – better still – 60% of the Fortune 100 have set targets.

These corporations are demonstrating real progress toward their goals. For example, Mars, Inc., a food company known for its chocolate products, recently announced that it will build a 200-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Lamesa, TX, which, according to Mars, is the largest long-term commitment to renewable energy made by any food manufacturing business in the U.S. We read about other large deals nearly every day.

In the process of switching to renewable energy, companies have gained a great deal of experience. Unfortunately, this transition hasn’t been easy. Utilities have been slow to respond to their major customers’ needs. When the companies bypass their utilities to purchase renewable energy elsewhere, they are having successes, but face complex deals and financing arrangements making it hard to buy renewables at the scale they need.

What do the companies want? The companies want utilities, utility regulators, and providers of renewable energy to understand that they have large demand for clean renewable energy. The system that exists now makes it difficult to meet their goals. But companies are willing, and in many cases would prefer to work with all these key players to make renewable energy available more quickly.

In every other aspect of their business, companies are used to a competitive market for the commodities they buy. The best quality goods at the most favorable terms win the contract. However, where energy is concerned -- and particularly renewable energy -- companies have far fewer choices. In many markets, companies have no choice at all. In others, choices are extremely limited or require a price premium over fossil-fuel produced energy, in quantities too small to meet the company needs, and subject to ongoing price volatility. All in all, this hinders companies’ ability to meet their renewable energy targets and discourages the setting of more ambitious targets. We should be rewarding these corporate leaders trying to do the right thing with their energy use, not slowing them down.

On the upside, there is a huge opportunity available to utilities and renewable energy providers who can bring companies what they need. The companies that have signed onto the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles alone account for 8.4 million megawatt hours of demand per year, enough electricity to power nearly 800,000 homes each of the next few years. Many of these companies would prefer to meet this need by purchasing renewable electricity through their local utility companies, but if utility companies are unable to provide it, they are -- and will -- continue to go elsewhere.

A more robust, open renewable energy market with innovative tariffs would create the competition needed to encourage other companies to set and meet aggressive renewable targets, something that would literally benefit the entire planet. If that sounds like a good idea to you, we welcome more companies to sign onto the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles.

Intrigued? Shoot me an email and we’ll talk about meeting your company’s renewable energy targets. For utility regulators, it’s time to find out what your customers want and find a way to meet that need. If you don’t, someone else will.

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Opportunity

A Mom Finds Balance, From a Supercenter to the Sidelines

It was a Saturday in early September last year. Martha Brown was among the enormous crowd of college football fans at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, standing and cheering wildly. The turnover that had just taken place was a huge play for Auburn. But for Martha, it was personal. Her son, Derrick, had made the fumble recovery in his very first game with the Auburn Tigers.

For this Walmart department manager and mother of three, it was a heartwarming validation of the countless hours she had put in supporting and guiding her son through years of practices, games and recruitment trips.

Twelve years ago, while working as a cashier in Buford, Georgia, Martha made a promise to her kids: She would never miss a game. That meant working overnight shifts and odd hours. “Sometimes, on Friday or Saturday nights, I came straight to work after a game,” she said. But through it all, Martha says her supervisors made every effort to accommodate her commitment to her children.

In fact, her store manager and fellow associates went even further, donating sports drinks and water to Derrick’s team and sponsoring picnics as a way to give back to the community.

Martha’s not working overnights anymore. Her 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. shift gives her the ability to spend time with her daughter and younger son, guiding them through afterschool activities. But that doesn’t mean Martha has stopped taking advantage of flexible scheduling. She’s still able to build her work shifts in such a way that she can make the long drive to Auburn – and away games all over the South – during the football season.

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Sustainability

How We’re Staying On Track to Fight Climate Change

When you pick up a product at Walmart, a number of questions may come to mind: “What’s in it? Where was it made? Will it do what I need it to do?” What you may not always be thinking about is that item’s impact on the environment.

More than a decade ago, Walmart’s then CEO set us on a journey to dig deeper into our business to find ways to provide products that are better for both people and the planet.

Fast-forward to last November, and our current Walmart CEO Doug McMillon issued a new challenge: ensuring that our business can continue delivering sustainable products for generations to come. He laid out our leadership position in the fight against climate change through a commitment to set science-based targets, and Walmart became the first retailer to have its goals approved by the Science Based Targets initiative.

Why is setting science-based targets important to Walmart? We know global climate change can pose a threat to our country’s economy and global supply chains — threats such as lower crop yields, increased health costs and disaster-caused property losses. Walmart and other retailers would face a number of challenges if our complex supply chains were weakened by climate-related issues. Addressing climate change is a win-win: good for society and good for Walmart.

There is great opportunity for businesses to address these issues before they happen. By taking the right steps now, we can help reduce risks, lower costs and strengthen supply chains – all while we help the customers of tomorrow get the products they want, when they want them, and at lesser impact to the environment.

Here’s a closer look at what we’re doing.


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Innovation

Movie Magic: Behind Vudu’s New Mobile Feature

Harry Potter flying on his broomstick during a Quidditch match. Julia Roberts fleeing the altar(s) in Runaway Bride. The Goonies going on a hunt for a pirate’s treasure.

When we think of these moments, we think about the stories, not necessarily how we were able to watch them.

I work at Vudu, which was built around the idea of giving customers easy access to their favorite television shows and movies. This was our core promise nearly a decade ago and remains our focus today.

Because we’re part of Walmart, the largest seller of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, we have a unique opportunity to help customers get even more out of their physical collections.

Today we announced that, beginning at 12:00 p.m. EDT, customers will be able to convert DVDs and Blu-rays into digital files through a simple scan with their phones.

This isn’t new for us. In fact, we first launched our Disc-to-Digital service five years ago to give movie lovers the ability to unlock digital files from their DVDs and Blu-rays. Since then, we’ve steadily evolved that service – and even added InstaWatch for new movies – to give customers simple and easy ways to get more from their physical discs while they also build their digital libraries.

Check out the journey we’ve taken over the last five years to help customers give their physical DVD and Blu-ray collections a second life as digital movies.

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Opportunity

Introducing the All-New WalmartCareers.com

With more than 4,600 locations in the U.S. – and online shopping, too – odds are most of us have connected with Walmart at some point in the last year.

But helping our customers check off grocery lists and wish lists wouldn’t be possible without one important thing: our people.

Delivering on this expectation every day requires a lot of support not just on the front lines at our stores, but also behind the scenes at our fulfillment and distribution centers and corporate offices. Walmart is a place where anyone can build a career, and it’s my role to ensure job seekers know about the opportunities that exist.

One way we’re doing that is through the recently refreshed WalmartCareers.com. But what else is there to know about working for Walmart? Here’s a short list.

1. Expect the unexpected.
Careers at Walmart are as individual as the people who work here. We employ a wide range of roles from store managers and software engineers to pharmacists and pilots.

Our CEO Doug McMillon is well known for working his way up from unloading boxes in a warehouse to where he is today, and he’s just one of many associates who found their dream job among the many opportunities here at Walmart.

2. Counting on success.
Employing more than 2 million associates worldwide – 1.5 million in the U.S. alone – is a huge responsibility. However, the size of our workforce is just one number worth knowing. Here are several other stats that make us proud:

  • More than 75% of our store management teams started as hourly associates.
  • We promoted 200,000 U.S. associates last year to jobs with more responsibility and higher pay, and more than 9,000 hourly associates were promoted to salaried managers.
  • More than 225,000 associates will graduate from our Academies training program by the end of 2017 – emerging prepared to better serve customers, lead teams and take the next step in their careers.

3. Digital first.
With more than 1.6 million visitors each month, WalmartCareers.com is a first impression for many candidates – and we want it to be a great one. The site was recently redesigned to:

  • Invite visitors to experience our culture.

From day-in-the-life videos to real images of our offices and associates, the site opens our doors and invites visitors to experience Walmart like never before.

  • Make it easy for applicants to find their perfect fit.

With so many opportunities available, finding the perfect role can be challenging. We used this as inspiration for the newly designed site navigation, department pages and job search.

  • Showcase our commitment to innovative digital experiences.

We love the unexpected (and the delightful!), and the refreshed careers site is one way we are showcasing our efforts to create great, immersive experiences for our candidates.

4. The future’s so bright.
Through our physical locations and digital capabilities, we’re committed to creating an easy and time-saving shopping experience for our customers. But whether it’s online grocery pickup or changing our in-store setup, we can’t make that happen without bright people to drive innovation and bring ideas to life.

Technology will continue to change the world around us, and associates at all levels are helping us change with it. As I’ve heard our CEO say, “Bring it on.”

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