New Walmart Facility Pilots Solar Thermal ,Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Wind Power
Walmart Canada has announced the opening of its first sustainable fresh food distribution centre, a state-of-the-art facility that will be an estimated 60% more energy-efficient than the company’s traditional refrigerated centres and that will help the company avoid approximately $4.8 million in energy costs over five years. One of North America’s most energy-efficient distribution centres, the Balzac facility is a living lab of sustainability and includes the company’s first pilots of hydrogen fuel cells, solar thermal and wind power, as well as many other sustainability features and products.
Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of Canada’s Environment Minister John Baird, joined Andy Ellis, Walmart Canada’s SVP of Supply Chain and Logistics, Walmart suppliers and associates at an event today to publicly unveil this first-of-its-kind facility.
“Our sustainable distribution centre showcases the immediate business returns of investing in green innovations and the positive impact of a sustainability mindset through all phases of a project,” said Ellis. “This living lab of sustainability is supporting the expansion of our modern Supercentre format while also helping us get closer to meeting our long-term sustainability goals. The successful completion of this ambitious project supports our long-held belief that environmental and business sustainability can go hand-in-hand.”
“The Government of Canada congratulates Walmart Canada for its commitment to environmental leadership,” said Canada’s Environment Minister John Baird. “Projects like this innovative Perishable Distribution Centre create a showcase for industry in Alberta and keep our nation on the cutting edge of green technologies.”
Walmart Canada has invested $115 million to build the 400,000 square foot centre. One of Canada’s largest refrigerated buildings, it serves as a hub for fresh and frozen food destined for 104 of the company’s stores in Western Canada, from Manitoba to British Columbia. Over the course of its construction, an estimated 800 jobs were created in trade and construction roles. The Walmart-owned facility will be operated by Supply Chain Management, a third-party logistics provider and will employ approximately 600 team members.
Key sustainability features of the Balzac distribution centre include:
Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Hydrogen fuel cells replace traditional lead acid batteries in the facility’s entire fleet of 71 material handling vehicles. The use of fuel cells as a power source will reduce C02 emissions from the vehicle fleet by 55 per cent or an estimated 530 tonnes annually, the equivalent of taking 101 passenger vehicles off the road per year. Their use will also improve productivity and result in a cost-avoidance of an estimated $1.3 million over five years.
Wind and Solar Power
Two, 30-kilowatt wind turbines on the facility’s grounds will generate about 100,000 kwh per year each or enough electricity to power 40 average-sized Canadian homes annually. Sixteen solar thermal panels on the facility will provide energy to heat domestic hot water for use in offices and maintenance areas. The solar array will produce a peak of over 205 kilowatt hours per day, or the equivalent of heating the water of 20 Canadian homes with 40-gallon tanks.
The warehouse and parking lot is lit exclusively by low-energy solid-state (LED) lighting, which provides many financial, operational and environmental benefits. LED lights are an estimated 69 per cent more energy-efficient than incandescents; produce significantly less waste heat, optimal for a refrigerated environment; strike instantly; and can last an estimated 20 years. The use of LED lighting exclusively will save the company an estimated seven million kilowatt hours of electricity over five years and help it avoid an estimated $645,000 in costs over the same period. Per year, that’s enough electricity to power an estimated 121 average-sized Canadian households.
The facility’s refrigeration system uses ammonia as a coolant rather than ozone-depleting Freon. This results in a system that is 33 per cent more energy-efficient than a traditional Freon system. Designed with a demand-response capability, the refrigeration system is also able to draw electricity during off-peak grid times. Waste heat from the system is used to keep the sub-floor frost-free in the winter. Using smart refrigeration will help avoid an estimated $2 million in costs over five years.
High-Efficiency Dock Doors and Doorways
Dock doors and doorways between temperature zones have been custom-designed to be more energy-efficient. Gaps between transportation vehicles and the dock doors have been lessened to reduce the loss of refrigerated air. The windows found in traditional dock doors have been eliminated and insulation installed in levellers, further reducing energy loss. Electronic monitoring ensures that dock doors are not left open unnecessarily. Automatic doorways between temperature zones produce an air flow pattern that keeps different temperature air in respective zones, minimizing energy loss in refrigerated areas.
Walmart Canada has invested $220 million in the past two years to update and expand its distribution network. Its national network supplies 321 stores from eight distribution facilities: four sites in Calgary, Alberta, including Balzac; one site in Cornwall, Ontario; and three sites in Mississauga.
On the sustainability side, the company is also working steadfastly with its suppliers to increase its logistics efficiency and to incorporate sustainable practices and initiatives into the processes, operations and mindset of its third-party suppliers. The company has instituted no idling policies in all its stores and distribution centres; improved fill rates on trucks and increased use of long-combination vehicles. Several times a year, Walmart Canada gathers its logistics suppliers to share best practices and recognizes carriers annually for sustainable operations, processes and corporate commitment.
“After much hard work, with many partners, we’re extremely proud to open our sustainable distribution facility that I believe will set a positive example for our global operations, for business and the world.” added Ellis. “What today serves as a demonstration facility, we hope to see as an industry norm in the not-too-distant future.”
About Walmart Canada
Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Walmart Canada operates 321 retail outlets nationwide and serves more than one million customers daily. The company’s vision is to demonstrate environmental leadership by reducing the ecological impact of its operations through company-wide programs focused on waste, energy and products, as well as outreach programs that preserve and enhance local environments. Walmart’s global environmental goals are: to generate zero waste; to be powered 100 per cent by renewable energy; and to sell products that sustain people and the environment. Visit www.walmart.ca for more company information
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