Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the king of the "big-box" store, has launched an experiment near Dallas, Texas, to see how its retail outlets might lessen their environmental impact. The new "Wal-Mart Experimental Store" in McKinney features a total of 50 kilowatts of solar power systems integrated into the Garden Center's canopy, the roof of the entry vestibules, the facade of the front entry, and the roof of the Tire and Lube Express. The store also features a 50-kilowatt wind turbine that will supply about 5% of the store's electricity needs.
The building features a white reflective roof to reduce its cooling loads and a reduced building height to reduce its need for heating and cooling. It uses radiant floor heat, in which hot water runs through the concrete slab that forms the floor, and uses displacement ventilation, an energy efficient way to distribute conditioned air throughout the store. The store even captures the waste heat from its refrigeration equipment, using it to heat water for the restrooms and for the radiant floor heating system. The heating system is also fueled with waste cooking oil and used automotive oil. The store's efficient lighting system is automatically dimmed to make the best use of daylighting and is also dimmed slightly at night. LED lighting is employed inside grocery cases to avoid adding unnecessary heat. According to Wal-Mart, the company "hopes to learn new environmental conservation best management practices and benchmarks that will serve as future design standards in the retail industry."