Wal-Mart green design

I thought you might be interested in the green Wal-Mart store which was proposed for Vancouver three years ago. This application was ultimately rejected by the Council of the day. I understand that Wal-Mart will now be establishing a store in a big-box abandoned by another retailer. I assume the architectural plans are still available and could be contructed on another site. The second article I have included describes the rooftop rainwater collection system.    SW

Wal-Mart pitches green design for Vancouver

The retail discount chain Wal-Mart, already a Goliath across North America, is fighting for a piece of turf in one of Canada’s largest cities.

Vancouver City Hall first said that Wal-Mart was not environmentally friendly enough for the city, and sent the world’s largest retailer back to the drawing board.

Wal-Mart already has stores in nearby North Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Langley, and Abbotsford.

In order to satisfy city hall, Wal-Mart hired architect Peter Busby to come up with a new plan.

Busby’s architecture firm is a leader on the world stage in sustainable development. His office is located in Vancouver’s Yaletown district, and according to their website, his goal is “to inspire others to produce buildings which are not only beautiful but contribute to the health of our environment.”

After spending two years on his design, Busby says, “there’s nothing like this in North America.”
His “green” design will allow the Wal-Mart store to use one-third of the energy it takes to run a regular store. Windmills generate power and underground wells will heat and cool the building. Skylights will replace lamps in the store.

“There will be no lights on during the daytime all year. That saves a lot of energy.”
Despite the design changes, city councillor Anne Roberts still doesn’t want a Wal-Mart in Vancouver. “A Wal-Mart flies smack in the face of what we’ve been trying to do.”

Wal-Mart has applied to build on a vacant lot on Marine Drive, in the southeast part of Vancouver. This area has been approved for “big box” store development.

CTV’s Todd Battis says that the city is worried about the 6,000 cars expected to drive to and from the store each day. Exhaust from the traffic would create a pollution problem, and would also add to traffic congestion inside Vancouver.

Roberts says: “This city wants to be a city of neighborhoods; to get away from the car.”

Canadian Tire has also proposed to build on an adjacent lot next to where Wal-Mart is planning to build. However, Canadian Tire hasn’t received the same level of opposition Wal-Mart has from the City of Vancouver.

Wal-Mart is one of the largest employers in the world, with more than one million employees. But it’s faced some labour issues in recent times. In Quebec, Wal-Mart is shutting down the first store to unionize in North America this May.

Busby remains optimistic that his environmentally friendly design will not only save Wal-Mart money but could influence future Wal-Mart outlets for the better.

“They’re a very thrifty company. If this proves to be cheaper to run, who knows, maybe they’ll change their approach to lots of different stores.”

Wal-Mart will find out this May if their environmental changes are enough for the Vancouver City Council. But Vancouver won’t be the only major city to keep Wal-Mart out; New York City doesn’t have a Wal-Mart either

Windmills, geothermal heating proposed in bid to appease council

Wal-Mart Canada has unveiled a $30-million-plus, environmentally correct design — with windmills, geothermal heating and 250 dogwood trees — for its controversial store on Vancouver’s Southeast Marine Drive.

The design aims to appease Vancouver city council members who in 2003 told the U.S.-based retailing giant to come up with the “greenest” design possible if it wants a chance to build its first store in Vancouver.

“It’s an earnest response to the challenges council put before us and it’s certainly a design that recognizes the sensibilities of Vancouver,” Wal-Mart representative Kevin Groh said in an interview.

Vancouver architect Peter Busby spent 22 months on the unique plans, which were submitted Wednesday to city officials. Public hearings and city council consideration are still months away but Busby said he’s excited at the prospect of Wal-Mart building its first green Canadian store in Vancouver.

“It’s a breakthrough project,” he said in an interview.

“It’s one thing to do an expensive demonstration building for a university, but to bring it right down to the ground where people touch and feel it every day is very satisfying.”

Busby said Wal-Mart has built three green U.S. stores in the past decade but none of those has all the features found in the proposed Vancouver store, which are expected to cut energy use by 37 per cent while reducing water use by 48 per cent and carbon dioxide emissions by 40 per cent.

The Wal-Mart proposal in Vancouver has generated considerable public debate for years.

On Wednesday, those opposed to the project said the new “green” design does little to alleviate their basic concern: That the result would still be a mega-

store drawing customers away from the city’s small neighbourhood shopping centres and generating a huge amount of traffic.

But Shirley Chamaschuk, 75, a resident of the area since 1963, was among several who welcomed the proposal Wednesday. “I think it would be great,” she said. “It’s too far [to get to other Wal-Marts].”

The proposed new 120,000-square-foot store features geothermal heating and cooling from a series of 60-foot-deep wells that will be drilled beneath the store. Three windmills on the site will provide about half the power necessary to drive the geothermal system.

The building’s roof features skylights that will reflect daylight back into the store, reducing the need for artificial light. The roof will collect water, with a cistern and pool that will store water for domestic use inside.

Rainwater on the site will drain into the ground naturally, as the parking lot for 755 cars will be made of permeable asphalt that allows water to pass through. Wal-Mart says the development will have an “orchard-like” setting because 250 mature, six-metre-high dogwood trees will be planted throughout the project.

Project developer Darren Kwiatkowski said the new design proves Wal-Mart will do everything it can to gain city approval.

“It’s about retail land use, and whether it’s Zellers or Canadian Tire or Wal-Mart on the label shouldn’t enter into council’s decision,” he said. “The only issue is if this is a good urban design and a good building for the community.”

Groh said the cost of the Vancouver project will be “significantly” higher than other Wal-Mart stores in Canada, which normally cost about $20 million to develop. (The $30-million-plus cost of the proposed new Vancouver store includes $20 million in land costs, so the building itself will cost more than $10 million.)

Groh said some of the expense can be justified by the sales the new store is expected to generate and by the value of being able to monitor the effectiveness of the sustainability features.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the U.S. parent company, recorded global sales last year of $256 billion US — a sum larger than the gross domestic product of Austria.

Last month, Surrey council approved plans to build a Wal-Mart in South Surrey following a stormy public hearing that stretched into the following morning. Wal-Mart has also been rejected in Surrey, with a proposed Scott Road store turned down in 2000.

Canadian Tire, meanwhile, has proposed building a new 130,000-square-foot store near the Vancouver Wal-Mart development — on the old Chrysler Canada property on Southeast Marine Drive between Ontario and Manitoba streets. The project would feature a Canadian Tire store and about 125,000 square feet of other retail stores.


I don’t need any more shopping around here. It’s a lot of garbage you don’t need.

Alice Gmuer, 58

Nurse and local resident

I think it would be great. That traffic coming back [from other Wal-Marts] is horrible.

Shirley Chamaschuk, 75

who has lived in the area since 1963

If people can get what they want at affordable prices, who am I to tell them where they can shop?

Erin Gorby, 28

Arborist who works in the area

Vancouver needs a Wal-Mart, especially here at Main and Marine.

Khurram Butt, 28

taxi driver who lives near the proposed Wal Mart

We have lots of traffic here. More traffic will be coming [if they add a Wal-Mart].

Bhupinder Dhillon, 62

building supply warehouse worker whose house looks onto the proposed site

Ran with fact box “What Do You Think About the ProposedWal-Mart Site?”, which has been appended to the end of the story.