Top 10 Eco-Friendly Features of Walmart Stores

By Don Moseley
September 10, 2014

Our ongoing sustainability commitments impact our suppliers, products, and, of course, our stores. They also help us cut costs so we can pass those savings onto our customers. Here are some of the ways we’re making our stores more eco-friendly:

1. LED Lighting in refrigerator and freezer cases. In 2005, we piloted LED lights in one of our Texas stores; now they are standard in new stores nationwide. These lights use 70% less energy than fluorescent tube lights and generate significantly less heat, which is important for refrigerators and freezers. As is the case with all LED lighting, energy efficiency and reduced maintenance are the biggest advantages.

2. Water efficiency. In communities that struggle with water scarcity such as Santa Fe, N.M., we collect rainwater in an underground tank and save it to water the store’s landscaping. In other stores, a number of our opportunities for water savings are in the restrooms. New stores feature high-efficiency urinals that reduce water use by 87% compared to the conventional 1-gallon-per-flush urinal. In addition, high-efficiency toilets use 20% less water compared to allowable EPA standards of up to 1.6 gallons per flush. 

3. Concrete flooring. By using exposed concrete floors in most of our newly constructed stores, Walmart is reducing surface applied flooring materials. This minimizes or eliminates the need for chemical cleaners, wax, and wax strippers — making it a better environmental choice.

4. White roofs. For newly constructed stores, Walmart uses white membrane roofs which have a higher reflectivity and help reduce building energy consumption. The white color of the roof helps to reflect the sun's heat and reduce it from being transmitted into the building.

5. Daylight harvesting. During daytime hours, Walmart replaces the artificial light in its larger stores with natural daylight to save energy and enhance the shopping experience. Hundreds of skylights use electronic continuous dimming technology so that most of the overhead lights dim and then turn off for many hours of most days. For a typical Walmart Supercenter, this reduces the amount of energy used to light the sales floor by 25%. Sam’s Club also effectively uses this energy saving technology and has for almost two decades.

6. Heat reclamation. Walmart uses systems that transfer waste heat from the refrigeration system to heat domestic hot water for restrooms and food preparation areas. During the winter, in some stores, this heat is also returned into the building to warm interior spaces.  In some stores, this waste heat is also used to help cool the buildings during the summer.

7. Smart irrigation systems. As of August 1, 2014, more than 1,100 Walmart stores have smart irrigation systems that include real time weather, site-specific watering instructions, and management and operations dashboards with real-time remote controls via the cloud.  Over the past five years, for these 1,100+ stores, Walmart has reduced water required for irrigation needs by more than 32% on average per site.

8. LED lighting in parking lots. Most new Walmart stores include this feature, and there are a number of benefits. This type of lighting reduces energy consumption by 50% compared to conventional light fixtures. It also improves the quality of lighting, which is important for customers who shop at night. Exterior parking lot lights for stores built before this technology was utilized are intended to be converted to LED over the next few years.

9. LED lights for other outdoor uses. Walmart uses LED lights for both exterior building signage and exterior building security lighting. These lights are projected to last at least six years longer than conventional lighting, which reduces maintenance costs. 

10. Building materials. For construction of new stores, Walmart utilizes steel and metal with a high recycled content for the building envelope framing. In addition, many of the adhesives and sealants we use in construction are selected to achieve maximum performance with minimum impact to the environment.