Wal-Mart Opens First 'High-efficiency' Supercenter; More to Follow

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. today is opening the first in a series of what it is calling "high-efficiency stores," that will use 20 percent less energy than a typical supercenter.

The first such store is in Kansas City, Mo. In addition to the cutting-edge technologies already found in Wal-Mart stores, the new high-efficiency stores will integrate industry-leading heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems to conserve energy, Wal-Mart said.

"Just over a year ago, our c.e.o. Lee Scott challenged our associates to open a store that was 25 to 30 percent more efficient by 2009," said John Menzer, vice chairman, Wal-Mart Stores, in a statement. "The Kansas City High-Efficiency store is the first of its kind, and shows Wal-Mart is capable of operating stores, clubs, and distribution centers in a way that saves energy, lowers utility costs, reduces emissions, and above all, provides a better shopping experience for our customers."

In 2005, Wal-Mart opened two experimental units in McKinney, Texas, and Aurora, Colo., to test several environmentally friendly technologies, ranging from wind power to pervious pavement, and from waterless urinals to light-emitting diodes. The aim was to experiment with innovative technologies, with the intention that they could some day be incorporated into a store prototype.

The Kansas City high-efficiency store is the first store to bring some of these experiments from the preliminary testing phase to a practical trial phase.

Wal-Mart plans to open the next High-Efficiency store in Rockton, Ill., this spring.

"We are learning a tremendous amount from our experimental stores," said Eric Zorn, president, Wal-Mart Realty. "Wal-Mart stores are already some of the most energy-efficient in the retail industry, but we want to take efficiency even further. This new Supercenter is where we really get to put what we've learned into practice, and we're excited to reach a 20 percent energy reduction so quickly."

To achieve the 20 percent energy reduction at the new Kansas City high-efficiency store, the company will target two main energy-consuming units: the heating and air conditioning system (HVAC), and the refrigeration system.

With the installation of special equipment, such as a water source heat pump and cooling towers, hot and cold water can be harnessed to drive new levels of efficiency. Specifically, the new HVAC and more efficient refrigeration systems are fully integrated so that 100 percent of the heat rejected by the refrigeration system is reclaimed into the HVAC. The reclaimed heat is then converted into usable energy.

By incorporating a loop-piping design, the advanced refrigeration system also reduces the amount of installed copper and the total refrigerant charge required.

Other energy-saving technologies in the high-efficiency store include the installation of ultra-efficient case fans, glass doors on medium temperature grocery cases, RollSeal quick response doors to seal air in areas such as the Garden Center, and a top-of-the-line dehumidification system.

The store will also have a daylight harvesting system, which uses skylights to refract daylight throughout the store and light sensors to monitor the amount of natural light available. During periods of higher natural daylight, the system then dims or turns off the store lights when they aren't needed, thereby reducing energy-usage.

Like many other Wal-Mart stores opening this month, the Kansas City Supercenter also features GE's energy-saving light-emitting diode (LED) refrigerated case lighting. LEDs have a longer life span than fluorescent bulbs, produce less heat and use significantly less energy than typical grocery case lighting.
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