Walmart Canada opened its first sustainable fresh food distribution centre in Balzac, Alberta on November 10.
The state-of-the-art facility will be an estimated 60 percent more energy-efficient than Walmart Canada’s traditional refrigerated centres, the company reported. The centre will also help the company avoid about $4.8 million in energy costs over five years.
“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 Andy Ellis, Walmart Canada’s senior vice-president of supply chain and logistics. “The successful completion of this ambitious project supports our long-held belief that environmental and business sustainability can go hand-in-hand.”
Walmart Canada invested $115 million to build the 400,000-square-foot centre, which will serve as a hub for fresh and frozen food destined for 104 of the company’s stores in Western Canada.
Key sustainability features of the Balzac distribution centre include:
• hydrogen fuel cells that will replace traditional lead acid batteries in the facility’s 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 percent;
• two 30-kilowatt wind turbines will generate about 100,000 kilowatt hours of power a year;
• the warehouse and parking lot are lit exclusively by low-energy, solid-state lighting. The lights are an estimated 69 per cent more energy-efficient than incandescent lights, and can last about 20 years;
• dock doors and doorways between temperature zones have been custom-designed to be more energy-efficient. For example, gaps between transportation vehicles and the dock doors have been lessened to reduce the loss of refrigerated air.
“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,” said Ellis. “What today serves as a demonstration facility, we hope to see as an industry norm in the not-too-distant future.”
The Walmart-owned facility will be operated by third-party logistics provider Supply Chain Management and will employ about 600 people.