Wal-Mart's Sustainability Index is Changing the Game
Submitted by: Ecoxera
Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility
Posted: Jul 21, 2009 – 03:54 PM EST
July 16, 2009 - a milestone event took place in retail. Wal-Mart announced a custom sustainability index - a platform that addresses the environmental footprint of most areas of the business model, aligns with the company's values and enables transformation in its supply chain.
What is different about their approach is that they are not saying they have the most wind power, or photovoltaics, or thousands of green products within their stores. They are not saying they are green champions or the best or the first to achieve some environmental accomplishment. What they are saying is that they are working hard in partnership with multiple outside parties, including universities and NGOs, to develop a transparent, open-platform sustainability index that is life-cycle focused and puts an emphasis on the impact of suppliers and the supply chain. The final step in the development of the index is a sustainability rating that consumers will see on every price tag.
"A new precedence on transparency has been set for the retail industry. Wal-Mart's sustainability index will do for supply chain what LEED did for building design and construction - provide a comprehensive, measurable system from which to gauge impact and make improvements," says Justin Doak, Founder and CEO of Ecoxera, Green Business Strategy for Retail.
Prior to July 16th, if you had asked industry professionals who the green retail leaders were, they would have referred to those retailers with the "firsts," the "bests," or the "most" of something. The new leaders in today’s eco era will be the ones that infuse sustainability into the foundation for all business decisions. For those retailers, manufacturers and suppliers that have not made the leap to green, this presents a huge opportunity to gain a strategic advantage over competitors.
What does a sustainability platform look like? In short, a baseline and index tool that takes a life cycle approach to measuring impact and making decisions, not just in energy use or building footprint, but in all areas of business. A life cycle assessment measures embodied cost - the environmental, financial, health, and social costs - of every stage of production from harvesting of raw materials to the repurposing or discarding of an end-of-life product. This approach provides metrics that enable informed, transparent and responsible business decisions.
Consumers are looking to retailers and their supply chain for responsible, transparent, sustainability practices and products, Mike Duke, Wal-Mart CEO, emphasized during Wal-mart's Sustainability Milestone Summit.
"Retailers and supracticing green strategies now, and those planning for the future, will outperform their competitors and save money in the process," said David Devos, Ecoxera's President of Smart Design and Construction. "Through a sustainability platform approach, retailers and their supply chain will be able to respond to the demands of a more environmentally discerning consumer - the consumer of the future."
A conscious corporate citizen is one that acknowledges the impacts of the decisions they make and puts programs in place to mitigate that impact. Perhaps the lesson that retailers can glean is that sustainability is not an added burden to the current economic state, but a way through it.
Ecoxera, based in Austin, Texas, is an innovative team of experienced professionals in the field of sustainability who are driven to help the retail industry adopt and implement green business models. Comprised of LEED(R) accredited professionals who have developed retail sustainability programs for prominent corporations as well as the United States Green Building Council, Ecoxera has the unique ability to develop effective, integrated green approaches that yield lasting bottom-line results and provide green equity into a retailer's brand. Ecoxera's expertise extends across four main sectors: Building Efficiency & Green Operations, Innovative Design & Construction, Sustainable Products & Supply Chains and Greentelling(TM).
For more information visit ecoxera.com
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For more information about Wal-Mart's sustainability index click here
About Justin Doak:
Justin is the Founder and CEO of Ecoxera. Prior to Ecoxera, Justin was the manager of LEED Retail for the USGBC where he oversaw the technical development of two rating systems - LEED for Retail: New Construction 2009 and LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors 2009.
About David Devos:
David is the President of Smart Design and Construction at Ecoxera. Previously David served as the Director of Corporate Sustainability for Kohl's Department Stores where he managed the design and municipal approval process for over 700 stores. Under David's direction, Kohl's premiered some of the first LEED-Retail certifications in the world, and is the only big box retailer to implement a LEED-Volume certified green prototype across multiple locations, with three stores certified and 60 built and pending certification. David served on the Whole Building Design steering committee for the U.S. Department of Energy's Retailer Energy Alliance and created a National Account partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Today, Kohl's is one of the largest retail hosts of solar power in the country, one of the largest retail green power purchasers with 50 percent of the corporation's electrical needs met with green power, and is a retail leader in Energy Star labels.
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