How Walt Disney World plans to run on clean energy

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Epcot's Daredevil Circus Spectacular, at Walt Disney World Resort

Epcot’s Daredevil Circus Spectacular, at Walt Disney World Resort

…Climate change is bad for business. But as I’ve seen firsthand, companies that invest in clean energy, engage customers in sustainability efforts and leverage their influence to drive smart policies can turn a downside risk into tangible cost-savings, customer retention and global leadership.Forbes

Many of Walt Disney’s original plans for Disney World, in Orlando, Florida, were scrapped shortly after his death in 1966. Disney envisioned EPCOT (short for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), for instance, as a hotbed for scientific research and a model for energy and material conservation. While EPCOT in its current form produces its own food and some of its own energy, it is a far cry from Disney’s original vision.

Walt Disney announcing his plan for the Florida Project, which includes EPCOT. 1965.

But more than fifty years later, a series of changes are making serious headway at the worldwide destination. Angie Renner, an Environmental Integration Director at Walt Disney World Resort, spoke with Jake Hiller of the Environmental Defense Fund about the theme park’s initiatives. “Today,” Renner stated, “we are striving towards three main environmental goals: divert 60 percent of our waste from landfills by 2020, reduce net emissions 50 percent (from 2012 levels) by 2020, and reduce water consumption across the board.”

Living with the Land ride, at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT.

Renner ran through some of the surprising energy figures of the park in its current form: “One of my favorite large-scale LED projects that we have here is when we light up the Cinderella Castle with 170,000 LED lights for the holidays – it only uses the energy of about four coffee pots.” Renner also indicated that a 270-acre solar facility is about to be installed just outside the property lines, with enough energy to power 10,000 homes annually.


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