Wal-Mart Cuts Ribbon on Giant PV Array in Mexico, Canada’s First Green Store Prototype

Wal-Mart Cuts Ribbon on Giant PV Array in Mexico, Canada’s First Green Store Prototype

Wal-Mart's international operations have installed the largest photovoltaic solar power system in Latin America and opened Canada's first store to serve as a high-performance prototype for green building.

More than 1,056 solar panels were installed on 2,173.5 square meters, occupying about half the rooftop, at the Bodega Aurrera Convencion in Aguascalientes, Wal-Mart Mexico announced this week.

The 174 kW system is expected to supply the store with about 20 percent of the energy it needs and reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 140 tons.

The Mexican Solar Energy Association awarded Wal-Mart Mexico for its efforts in the project.

"This is the first large-scale project to generate energy using photovoltaic panels, not only for Wal-Mart Mexico, but for Wal-Mart International," Raul Arguelles, senior vice president for Corporate Affairs and People Division at Wal-Mart Mexico, said in a statement. "This puts Mexico at the head of the energy field. The project reinforces our commitment to obtain all the energy the company requires from renewable sources by 2025."

In Burlington, Ontario, Wal-Mart Canada opened the doors of its first green store prototype last Friday. Wal-Mart Canada plans to open other stores this year that are at least 30 percent more energy efficient than standard sites.

The Burlington store, however, boasts of energy efficiency that is at least 60 percent more efficient than comparable conventional structures, the company said.

The retailer lists almost two dozen environmentally friendly elements at the store including the first geothermal heating and cooling system at a large-scale Canadian retail site; an in-floor radiant heating and cooling system that circulates water for transfers instead of relying on air vents; an energy efficient lighting system that includes a daylight harvesting; power that is 100 percent sourced to renewables; an efficient refrigeration system that includes heat capture for warming the store; motion-activated LEDs in refrigerator and freezer cases to save energy; and increased roof insulation as well as a white roof membrane that deflects sunlight by an estimated 85 percent, reducing heat gain.

Builders installed low flow sinks, toilets and urinals; used recycled, locally sourced and low- or zero-VOC materials; and recycled as much as 75 percent the construction waste. In addition, the company said, builders used only renewable power, which was supplied by Bullfrog Power, during the entire construction project.

For employees and customers, the store maintains multiple waste diversion streams for paper, plastic and organics. The programs include recycling polystyrene waste into fire-resistant insulation used for commercial building. The new Burlington location also encourages customers to recycle plastic bags and CFL light bulbs, and has set up an in-store recycling center to deposit the material.

In all, the store expects to divert 85 percent of its waste from landfill and avoid release of an estimated 141 tonnes of carbon emissions.