Wal-Mart Canada to build green refrigerated facility

Wal-Mart plans to spend $115 million Canadian (about US $108 million) to build a refrigerated distribution center in western Canada. The retailer said the facility will employ new energy-saving technology that will place it at the head of logistics environmental efforts.

Planned for in Balzac, Alberta, just outside Calgary, this 450,000-square-foot facility will include a test of new hydrogen fuel cell technology to replace lead acid batteries for handling equipment. The company will install low-energy LED lighting throughout the center. Wal-Mart will also test using solar and wind energy to power basic operations at the center.

“The cutting-edge center will be an estimated 60% more energy-efficient than Wal-Mart’s traditional refrigerated distribution centers,” the company’s Canadian business unit said.

“We’ve set the ambitious goal of building the most sustainable distribution center possible, while at the same time delivering a compelling return on investment,” said Andy Ellis, senior vice-president of supply chain for Wal-Mart Canada. “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.”

Hydrogen fuel cells produce just heat and water as by-products and will replace lead acid batteries in the facility’s material-handling fleet. LED lights operate at low temperatures and have lengthy lifespans.

Sixteen solar panels, installed on the side of the facility, will provide clean, renewable energy to heat water. A 225-kilowatt on-site wind turbine will produce enough energy to power 55 average-size Canadian homes.

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