Wal-Mart Bows Most Energy-stingy U.S. Supercenter Yet

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Wal-Mart Bows Most Energy-stingy U.S. Supercenter Yet

Yesterday Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark., introduced its most energy-efficient U.S. store to date -- the HE.5 prototype -- that will use up to 45 percent less energy than the baseline Supercenter.

Building upon knowledge Wal-Mart gained from previous high-efficiency stores the retailer opened in 2007 and 2008, the HE.5, in Las Vegas, begins a new series of prototypes designed for specific climates, the company said. This facility is Western climate-specific, meaning its efficiency gains are made possible by innovations designed for the conditions of the region.

"Wal-Mart is piloting new technologies, driving innovation, and leveraging advances in building design to better align our stores with the communities we serve," said Charles Zimmerman, Wal-Mart's v.p. of prototype and new format development. "We are committed to openly sharing our learnings with the retail industry and the world because being more energy efficient is something everyone can benefit from."

The HE.5 features advancements in heating, cooling, refrigeration, and lighting to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the global retailer. Specifically, the store takes the integrated water-source format system that Wal-Mart piloted in its high-efficiency stores and adapts it to the local climate by adding evaporative cooling and radiant flooring technologies. The new HE.5 system reduces the temperature of water naturally by pumping it through roof-mounted cooling towers, then runs the cold water underneath the retail floor to cool the shopping area. Together, the systems are designed to provide a comfortable shopping environment while using less energy.

Given the climate-specific nature of the HE.5 store, this prototype will only be built in regions where its innovations will provide the greatest benefit, Wal-Mart said.

Wal-Mart said it hopes that its high-efficiency series of HE.1, HE.2, and HE.5 stores will ultimately help it reach its goal to design and open a viable store prototype that is 25-30 percent more energy efficient by 2009.