ROCKTON, Ill. - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has announced the opening of its second High-Efficiency Wal-Mart Supercenter in Rockton, Ill., 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. The store features advancements such as 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, vice president of prototype and new format design. "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., with the hope that successful experiments could someday be incorporated into new store prototypes. The Rockton High-Efficiency Supercenter implements many of these experiments:

• 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 2 to 3 percent energy reduction.

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

• 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.

"The new heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems are fully integrated so that 100 percent of the excess refrigerant heat is pumped back into the HVAC," said Jim McClendon, Wal-Mart chief mechanical engineer. "That means heat which would have been released into the air is reclaimed and converted into usable energy. We are actively sharing this technology and other learnings from our high-efficiency stores with the entire commercial industry, including our competitors."

Wal-Mart is now installing motion sensor-driven LED refrigerated and freezer case lighting in its new stores, the first commercial LED installation of this magnitude in U.S. retail. LED lights have a longer life span than fluorescent bulbs, produce less heat, and use significantly less energy than typical grocery case lighting.

In the High-Efficiency Supercenters, LED lights have been installed in freezer and refrigerated cases, and doors have been added to cases in the deli and dairy sections. To save energy, the motion sensor-driven lights in these cases automatically turn off when not in use for a few seconds, then quickly turn back on when a customer approaches.

A number of the environmentally beneficial features of the store are nearly indiscernible to customers and associates. For example, the daylight harvesting system 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 dims or turns off the store lights, thereby reducing energy use. Although the amount of artificial light varies, the state-of-the-art system makes the lighting changes virtually seamless.

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Publication date:03/26/2007