Wal-Mart to give $250,000 to RMI | AspenTimes.com

Wal-Mart to give $250,000 to RMI

Charles Agar
Aspen, CO Colorado

SNOWMASS ” One corporate giant and one local energy nonprofit are getting in bed together.

Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in Snowmass, Wal-Mart officials will give a $250,000 check to the Rocky Mountain Institute.

For years, Wal-Mart and the feisty environmental nonprofit led by chief scientist Amory Lovins have worked to streamline Wal-Mart transportation and building practices, according to Marty Pickett, RMI executive director.

Thursday’s donation, however, is the first major contribution from Wal-Mart’s charitable foundation, which distributes tens of millions to causes nationwide, Pickett said.

The gift represents Wal-Mart officials’ “sincere desire” to make a difference, Pickett said.

The Rocky Mountain Institute raises half of its $12 million annual budget through individual contributions and grants. The other $6 million is income from consulting work with businesses, communities, individuals and governments.

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Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott made a recent pledge to improve the company’s energy practices, and in recent years, RMI has done some $100,000 in transportation consulting for the company, Pickett said.

“Obviously Wal-Mart has a big stake in the market,” Pickett said, adding that any improvements in Wal-Mart’s energy practices will have an important impact. “They’re a giant, and they have a lot of influence with a lot of consumers.”

The largest grant received by RMI to date was a multiple-year donation of $750,000. Thus, the $250,000 from Wal-Mart is big, Pickett said.

“It is a very significant grant,” Pickett said, adding that the money is a way for Wal-Mart officials to say they support environmental issues.

“I think they’re one of the leaders,” Pickett said. “They’re genuine in their commitment and this [grant] is evidence of that.”

RMI efforts fall under three categories ” transportation, buildings and energy efficiency, which are three mainstays of Wal-Mart, Pickett said.

“I think they’ve done a good job not only in their own operations but in the supply chain,” Pickett said.

It’s not the first time RMI officials have worked with what Pickett called “strange bedfellows” in corporate America.

Texas Instruments and officials from the Pentagon, among others, have hired RMI in the past, Picket said.

“We’re apolitical,” Pickett said. “We really reach out to legislators and policy makers on both sides of the aisle.”

And RMI officials are happy to work with any entity interested in lessening their impact, Picket said.

Tom Mars, executive vice-president and general counsel for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., will be on hand Thursday at the Snowmass office to present the check, along with the Glenwood Springs Wal-Mart store manager, Pickett said.

cagar@aspentimes.com

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