Walmart Canada to build "green" distribution hub

Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:29pm EST
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Walmart Canada said on Wednesday it will open a refrigerated distribution center in Alberta later this year that it expects to be about 60 percent more energy-efficient than its traditional centers.

Walmart Canada, a unit of the world's largest retailer, will test hydrogen fuel cells in its forklifts and install low-energy LED lighting throughout the C$115 million ($108 million) hub, which it will build on the outskirts of Calgary.

Hydrogen fuel cells produce only heat and water as by-products and will replace traditional lead acid batteries in the center's entire material-handling fleet. LED lights operate at low temperatures and have long lifespans.

Sixteen solar panels, mounted on the side of the center, will supply clean, renewable energy to heat hot water. A 225-kilowatt on-site wind turbine will produce enough energy to supply 55 average size Canadian homes.

"The center will be a living lab that demonstrates sustainable operations, products and technologies, while showing that environmental sustainability can go hand-in-hand with business sustainability," said Andy Ellis, senior vice-president of supply chain for Walmart Canada, a unit of Wal-mart Stores Inc.

Separately, Walmart Canada announced plans to install a rooftop solar system as well as a wind turbine at two separate, as yet unnamed, locations in Ontario.

Following the lead of its U.S. parent, the Canadian company also said it will launch a Sustainable Product Index to help customers in Canada evaluate the sustainability of the products they buy, from raw materials to disposal.

($1 = $1.06 Canadian)

(Reporting by Nicole Mordant; Editing by Frank McGurty)