Private industry begins shift to energy efficiency



Businesses are starting to see the green in energy efficiency. Their motives are not necessarily altruistic. What many business owners and managers now recognize is the practicality of saving energy. It saves money. Lots of it.

The Stockton Chamber of Commerce's REACON program is one of the leading San Joaquin Valley proponents of this greening Main Street concept, working with more than 400 businesses to overhaul or tweak their practices to become more sustainable, reduce energy costs and clean the air.

Corporate America, likewise, is figuring out the benefits. Late last month, Wal-Mart announced a goal to eliminate 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015. The amount, the company said, is the equivalent of taking more than 3.8 million cars off the road for a year.

At the Stockton Chamber's Recycling Expo, or REXPO, this month, two Wal-Mart employees shared a luncheon table with the staff of the SJVCEO, offering some visibility to the corporation's interest in sustainable practices.

"Think about what this means for Wal-Mart's suppliers," wrote Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen of GreenBiz.com. "They are accountable to not just the world's largest retailer, but the world's largest company. In China alone, the Bentonville behemoth holds sway over 10,000 suppliers, and it is making sustainability a benchmark for all."

Hollender and Breen also wrote about UK retailer Marks & Spencer, which wants to ensure that by 2015, half of its 36,000 product lines will include at least one sustainable attribute. "It's all part of Marks & Spencer's audacious aim to become the world's 'most sustainable major retailer' within five years."

Wal-Mart has rolled out its Supplier Energy Efficiency Project in which it has offered to conduct “energy audits” of its suppliers' facilities. Then using practices it's learned from its own efforts to improve building efficiency, Walmart helps suppliers identify projects that can help save energy and money.