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Friday, July 22, 2005

Will green work for Wal-Mart

Executives at embattled Wal-Mart are betting a bundle that getting on the green band wagon will bolster their corporate image around town, towns like Mckinney, TX, Aurora, CO, your town perhaps and mine.

The giant retailer opened the first of 2 prototype stores this week in Mckinney touted as using the latest in environmental mitigation technologies to reduce eco impact and, we suspect, deflect much of the criticism that has dogged Wal-Mart's expansion projects for the last few years. The new stores are designed to present features that one day, they hope, will be viewed as standard construction models repleat with waterless urinals in the bathrooms and heat generated, in part, by recycling used cooking oils from the deli and waste motor oil collected in their automotive department.

Other amenities designed to tighten up their eco debt include runoff retention ponds to both collect parking lot and roof area rainfall for net zero consumption irrigation and as a buffer to the surrounding environment; a windmill to generate power which will partially off set their electric load and wildflower meadows for eye appeal as well as good grounds stewardship. Not all of these technologies are new of course and experts agree that some are less than well conceived, others, however believe Wal-Mart deserves credit for taking a new tact and at least using some of its clout to reinforce, if not take a lead, in championing earth friendly building practices.

Recent Wal-mart wars such as the one in Tarpon Springs, FL are an example of their less than friendly efforts to cozy into eco sensitive neighborhoods that did not necessarily want them. The Florida site infringes ominously on a fragile wetlands buffer to the Anclote/Gulf estuary and continues to be a sore spot among Florida conservationists.

Greener will keep you apprised of the progression of these new 'green' super stores, you may be certain. Now if they would just make an effort to green up their merchandise lines and offer more natural, home grown and earth friendly products.

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