Emerging sustainability leader Wal-Mart Stores is partnering with fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton to help drive down the price of green technologies for American cities.
The agreement joins the Bentonville retailer with the former president's Clinton Climate Initiative. Established in 2006, the eco-organization had previously made green-technology discounts available to 40 cities around the world, including London and Rome. Linking up with Wal-Mart will aid the climate initiative's plan to add more than a thousand U.S. cities to the program.
Studies show that urban areas take up only 2% of the world's land, yet are responsible for 75% of its pollution.
“By offering these products at a discount rate, we can ensure that more cities and citizens have access to them, and that the market for clean-energy technology will grow,” said Clinton during a presentation at this year's U.S. Conference of Mayors, where the partnership with Wal-Mart was unveiled.
The Clinton Climate Initiative has pricing agreements with 25 product manufacturers, including GE, 3M and Volvo, and has been able to negotiate discounts of up to 15% on commodity items and up to 70% on non-commodity items. Once the mega-retailer adds its supply chain heft to the mix, the markdowns and list of participating manufacturers should grow even bigger.
Wal-Mart said it also wants to broaden the program's horizons by examining new technologies. For example, the retailer estimated that using energy-efficient LED lamps in parking lots and other outdoor areas could cut streetlamp energy consumption by 50% and reduce maintenance costs by 80%.
“This shows what can be achieved when business, government and the non-profit sector work together on some of the biggest challenges facing the world today,” said Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott, in a statement. “By combining our resources, we can help drive innovation, create new technology markets and ultimately reduce this country's dependence on foreign oil.”
All of this scores sustainability points for the company. In addition, it brings Wal-Mart to the same table as many of the cities — including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — that have resisted its march of stores.