The Aurora Supercenter is located in the metro-Denver area and is the latest in environmentally sustainable design. Wal-Mart has taken the position that it could profoundly change the way in which the retail industry designs and builds future stores. To illustrate, the metal facade system that forms the exterior south wall of the Supercenter is actually an active solar air heater. The SolarWall system is expected to reduce annual energy consumption at the Wal-Mart Supercenter by 1,325 million BTUs (388,000 kWh).
8,000 ft2 (745 m2 ) of grey SolarWall cladding forms the south exterior wall of the Supercenter. The metal panels heat up in the sun, and the ventilation fans draw the warmed air on the surface of the wall through the perforations in the panels and into the air cavity. This solar heated air is then distributed throughout the building and auto service center by the ventilation system using a series of long fabric ducts to deliver fresh air to shoppers in the store. This “natural” pre-heating of fresh air means less natural gas is needed to heat the ventilation air required to maintain a high level of indoor air quality. The wall also acts as a solar shield, reducing solar heat gain and cooling needs in the summer. Wal-Mart decided to actively showcase the energy-saving features with information screens throughout the stores, and a “walk of fame”. Each energy technology involved in the process has a “star’ in the store which describes their technology, and how it will reduce energy consumption and improve the working environment. The objective is to increase awareness and allow customers to learn about the different technologies, thereby mainstreaming the concept of energy efficiency.Wal-Mart_Y05_SolarWallCaseStudy(PDF)