Walmart Canada to open sustainable distribution centre

VANCOUVER, Feb. 10 /CNW/ - Walmart Canada announced today that it will open its first sustainable refrigerated distribution centre in Balzac, Alberta, later this year. Expected to be one of the most energy-efficient distribution facilities of its kind in North America, the cutting-edge centre will be an estimated 60 per cent more energy-efficient than Walmart's traditional refrigerated distribution centres. The centre will include a pilot of fuel cell technology and many other sustainable features.

The announcement was made at the Walmart Canada Green Business Summit in Vancouver today, a high-profile event that brought together more than 300 of Canada's largest corporations, NGOs, academics and government leaders to share the business case for sustainability.

The company expects to open the sustainable distribution centre in the fall of 2010 and is investing $115 million in its construction. The centre will create 1,400 jobs, including trade and construction jobs.

"We've set the ambitious goal of building the most sustainable distribution centre possible, while at the same time delivering a compelling return on investment," said Andy Ellis, Senior Vice-President of Supply Chain for Walmart Canada. "The centre 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."

Some of the distribution centre's sustainability features include:

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology

In keeping with its long-term environmental goal, to be supplied 100 per cent by renewable energy, Walmart Canada will test the use of hydrogen fuel cells for the first time. Hydrogen fuel cells produce only heat and water as by-products and will replace traditional lead acid batteries in the centre's entire material-handling fleet. Fuel cells will increase productivity and reduce operational costs because they last longer, do not need to be changed and can be refuelled in three minutes. Hydrogen will come from Quebec, where the element is produced using 98 per cent renewable energy sources, particularly hydroelectricity. Powering the  material-handling fleet with fuel cells will reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by an estimated 530 tonnes.

Solid-State Lighting

In a first for a refrigerated distribution centre, the entire facility will be lit exclusively by low-energy solid-state (LED) lighting. LED lights operate at low temperatures, have long life spans and strike instantly, providing important operational and environmental benefits in a refrigerated building. Using LED lights is expected to half the energy bill for lighting and save an estimated 1,400,000 kilowatt hours annually or the equivalent of powering 121 average size Canadian households with power for a year.

Solar and Wind Energy

Walmart Canada plans to test solar and wind energy at the Balzac facility. Sixteen solar thermal panels, mounted on the side of the centre, will supply clean, renewable energy to heat hot water for the facility. A 225-kilowatt wind turbine on-site will produce enough energy to supply 55 average size Canadian homes with energy.


Operating a large refrigerated building requires a large amount of energy. Walmart Canada has carefully evaluated its purchasing decisions, improved building design and made technology choices to make the facility more energy-efficient. The company undertook a state-of-the-art infrared scan of an existing refrigerated distribution centre in Ontario, identifying areas that could be made more energy-efficient in the new centre. Key features of the Balzac facility include a leading-edge refrigeration system requiring significantly less power, high-efficiency doorways between temperature zones, upgraded seals throughout the building and a white roof membrane that deflects an estimated 85 per cent of sunlight to reduce heat gain and demand on the electrical grid.

Sustainable Construction

Environmental sustainability is an important part of the construction phase, now underway. Through innovative waste diversion strategies, Walmart Canada expects to divert as much as 50 per cent of its construction waste from landfill. The entire construction phase will also be powered by renewable energy through Bullfrog Power, a Canadian provider of low-impact renewable electricity.

"The Balzac distribution centre is not only about reducing our ownenvironmental footprint and making strides to achieve our long-termsustainability goals, it's about leading change across an industry and thebusiness world at-large," added Ellis. "Our hope is that in the future, facilities like this will no longer be demonstration facilities but the norm for the industry."

About Walmart Canada

Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Walmart Canada operates 317 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 goal is to generate zero waste, to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy and to sell products that sustain people and the environment.

Balzac Distribution Centre


- Location: Balzac, Alberta, Canada
- Expected Opening Date: Fall 2010
- Size: 450,000 square feet
- Walmart Investment: $115 million
- Developer: Stuart Olson
- Operator: Centric Retail Logistics will operate the centre once complete
- Construction is expected to create approximately 1,400 jobs including 800 trade and construction roles
- Centre will employ 600 people once complete

Sustainable Features

- Hydrogen fuel cells in entire material-handling fleet
- Use of solar and wind energies
- Use of low-energy solid-state (LED) lighting exclusively
- High-efficiency doorways between temperature zones to minimize heat transfer
- Insulated and windowless docking doors
- Insulated docking plates with upgraded seals
- A white roof membrane to deflect sunlight by an estimated 85 per cent and reduce heat gain and demand on the electrical grid during the summer
- Increased insulation in the roof to reduce energy loss
- Solartubes(TM) on the roof of the building over office spaces take advantage of natural light and reflect it into interior spaces, reducing the need for artificial light
- Leading-edge refrigeration system reduces energy needs and uses ammonia instead of more harmful refrigerants
- Waste heat from refrigeration system heats building during winter months
- Chemical-free water treatment process in refrigeration system
- Concrete floors using fly ash reduce the use of cement and replace chemical-intensive tiling throughout the centre. A by-product of coal  burning at electric utility plants, the use of one tonne of fly ash saves the equivalent of one barrel of oil.
- Use of low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint and materials
- Low-flow sinks, toilets and urinals in washrooms
- Native plant landscaping to replace traditional manicured lawns
- A sedimentation pond, adjacent to the centre, collects storm water and allows sediment, which can affect water quality, to settle before  water is returned to local water systems

For further information: Susan Schutta, corporate affairs, Walmart Canada,
(905) 821-2111 x8012