Wal-Mart opens energy-efficient store in Illinois to help environment

By Melissa Silverberg

A new Wal-Mart Supercenter in Romeoville, Ill. is one of the company’s new generation of energy efficient stores being opened nationwide. This store is part of Wal-Mart’s commitment to issues of sustainability and the environment.

The Romeoville store opened Jan. 23 after four to five years of planning, said Luis Elvir, store co-manager.

“It is part of our corporate initiative to become more environmentally friendly,” he said. “It’s really an ongoing process.”

The new store saves about 25 to 30 percent in energy costs, meaning that it actually costs less to run the store in addition to helping the environment, Evir said. Water is generated from the store’s coolers and recycled to help with heating and cooling. The water would otherwise run off and become waste, he added.

This process reduces the amount of heat and electricity used instead of burning more natural gas.

Another addition to the Romeoville store is LED light bulbs in the refrigerator and freezer section, Elvir said. These lights turn off when no one is in the aisle to save energy and turn on only when something sets off the motion detector.

The store is a second generation High-Efficiency prototype, or HE.2, according to a Wal-Mart press release.

“We are a leader in the industry and a part of the global economy,” Elvir said. “We are trying to help the world become a better place for the future.”

Billy Dicus, manager of the Wal-Mart Super Center in Urbana, said he is not aware of any plans to turn the local store into one of the energy efficient prototypes. He added that most of the stores eventually will go in that direction.

“It is a really good thing; it conserves energy and helps to not deplete out resources so quickly,” Dicus said. “If we take a stand on something, it has a big impact.”

A representative from Meijer Inc. could not be reached for comment.

These new initiatives are not only being implemented at brand new stores, but also older stores are being retrofitted to increase energy efficiency, said Mia Masten, director of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart’s Midwest region.

Some of the changes being made are simple, for example, changing tile floor to concrete. Concrete flooring can be cleaned with just soap and water instead of the mixture of wax and chemicals needed for a tile floor, Masten said.

“Simple things can make big changes,” she said.