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Wal-Mart opens 'green' Supercenter designed for environment

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's biggest retailer, has opened the first of two test supercenters designed to protect the environment and save energy.

The first store, located in McKinney, Texas, features a windmill, solar panels and a drip-irrigation system for water conservation, Wal-Mart said. Cooking oil from the deli and automotive oil from Tire and Lube Express will be burned to heat the building.

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) will use the stores as three-year experiments in resource and energy conservation, said spokeswoman Tara Stewart. Wal-Mart has in the past faced opposition to its expansion plans from environmental and anti-development groups.

The company will open the second store in Aurora, Colo., later this year, Stewart said, giving it the ability to track operations in both a hot and a cold climate.

Wal-Mart isn't currently planning additional environmental stores, but may use technology from McKinney and Aurora in other supercenters. The company also said it will share the results of the tests with the retailing and development industries.

"We want to make sure the systems we have are not only saving energy but saving money," Stewart said.

Green stores

The two green stores will get about 8 percent of their energy from solar and wind power, Stewart said. Those technologies will save about 300,000 kilowatts of electricity that is used on lighting each year. The average supercenter uses 1.5 million kilowatts for lighting in a year, she said.

Wal-Mart agreed to pay a $1 million fine and establish a $4.5 million environmental management program in 2001 to settle federal charges that it violated Clean Water Act storm discharge rules at 17 sites in four states. Stewart said the green stores weren't connected to the environmental settlements.

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