This is the kind of article that I love. Disney pledging aggressive (seemingly) targets for consuming less power across their fleet of theme parks. What’s fascinating about this is that it’s a giant optimization problem, and that environmental concerns are directly in line with operating costs. Use less power == spend less money == save the planet. It’s win-win. And since the scale of WDW is mind-boggling (for example, WDW is the largest single-site employer in the US). So if you change the bathroom light bulbs to CFLs across 28,000 rooms on property, it’s going to have a measurable impact on your bottom-line. This would be an awesome contract for a environmental consulting firm.
The tricky part is when the lowest hanging fruit gets picked, or when they’ve already eliminated the biggest sources of waste. A NYT article on Walmart brought this up, that while Walmart has done great stuff with light bulbs and condensed laundry detergent, think of the dizzying array of products it could make green through the weight of its purchasing power. So when Disney runs out of obvious optimizations, it then has to make tougher economic decisions during what’s bound to be a tough economic period for tourism. Do they cut Wishes to 3 nights a week due to its environmental impact? Do they spend money to upgrade their buses to biodiesel?
Two salient points here: 1) it’s going to be interesting to see what happens to big company environmental efforts with a worsening economy (not that original of a point). 2) Let me just reiterate that how much fun this kind of optimization would be at a company of this scale. You help save the planet, make the company a ton of moolah, work with new, green technology, and go to disney theme parks. What a job.
UPDATE: John Frost has some notes on Disney’s newly released Corporate Responsibility Report.