Wal-Mart Opens Second 'High-Efficiency' Unit Store in Northern Illinois

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. opened the second of what it calls its High-Efficiency Supercenter yesterday in Rockton, Ill. The store is expected to use 20 percent less energy than a typical supercenter.

The High-Efficiency Supercenter is the second of four to open this year, located in a variety of climate zones to evaluate how the systems perform, Wal-Mart said. The store features integrated heating, cooling and refrigeration systems, and lighting innovations to conserve energy. Wal-Mart opened its first High-Efficiency store in January in Kansas City, Mo.

"At Wal-Mart, being a good business and a good steward of the environment go hand-in-hand," said Charles Zimmerman, v.p. of prototype and new format design, in a statement. "This series of higher-efficiency stores is an important step toward reaching one of our environmental goals -- designing and opening a prototype that is 25 to 30 percent more efficient by 2009. By incorporating these technologies into a working store, we are demonstrating that more efficient store designs can save energy, lower utility costs, and reduce emissions. Those are savings that we can pass along to our customers."

In 2005, Wal-Mart opened two experimental stores in McKinney, Texas, and Aurora, Colo.

The Rockton High-Efficiency store brings many of the experiments from those stores to life, Wal-Mart noted. Highlights include the following:

-- To achieve a 20 percent overall energy reduction, the Rockton store uses a 100 percent integrated water-source format heating, cooling and refrigeration system, where water is harnessed to heat and cool the building

-- Energy-saving motion-activated light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in refrigerator and freezer cases are expected to create a two to three percent energy reduction.

-- A state-of-the-art Munters Dehumidification system is expected to increase overall store energy-efficiency by roughly 2 percent

-- Many floors are made of integrally colored concrete instead of carpet or tile, reducing the need for certain harsh chemical cleaning products

-- All baseboards and chair rails are made of recycled plastic

-- Restroom sinks use sensor-activated, low-flow faucets. The low-flow faucets reduce water flow by 84 percent, while the sensors save approximately 20 percent in water usage over similar, manually-operated systems

Wal-Mart said it is now installing motion sensor-driven LED refrigerated and freezer case lighting in its new stores, which it claimed is the first commercial LED installation of this magnitude in U.S. retail.

[Watch for more on groundbreaking trends in green retailing in the April 1 print issue of Progressive Grocer.]
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