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Wal-Mart has embarked on one of the nation’s largest solar-power initiatives.

Construction

GreenbergFarrow, Atlanta, is overseeing development and construction for the national expansion program of Texas Roadhouse, Louisville, Ky., restaurants. The company completed 16 Road-house locations in 2006 and is managing site development, entitlements, and engineering and architectural services for 28 potential sites this year.… Foot Locker has commissioned Architectural Construction Services, Costa Mesa, Calif., to provide turn-key store development services for 10 Footquarters stores.

Lighting

Fiberstars, Solon, Ohio, has changed its corporate name to Energy Focus. The change reflects the company’s focus on providing energy-saving fiber-optic lighting solutions.… Cooper Lighting, Peachtree City, Ga., has announced a call for entries for its 31st annual SOURCE Awards national lighting-design competition. For more information, visit www.cooperlighting.com.

Construction/Real Estate Technology

Accruent, Santa Monica, Calif., is forming a partnership with CoStar Group that will provide on-demand property intelligence for key real estate decisions. The two firms are working together to develop and market an integrated solution that will allow on-demand access to CoStar’s commercial real estate data from Accruent’s software.

Wal-Mart Launches Solar-Power Pilot

In a pilot project to determine the viability of solar power in its operations, Wal-Mart Stores will install solar photovoltaic (PV) electric generating systems in 22 sites in California and Hawaii. (The locations include Wal-Mart stores, Sam’s Clubs and a distribution center.) The installation is a major step toward the chain’s previously announced goal of being supplied by 100% renewable energy.

The total solar-power production from the 22 sites is estimated to exceed 20 million kwh (kilowatt-hours) per year, according to Wal-Mart. When fully implemented, the aggregate purchase could be one of the nation’s top-10 largest-ever solar-power initiatives.

Each solar-power generating system can provide up to 30% of the power for the facility at which it is installed. By Wal-Mart’s estimates, the solar-power generators will help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 6,500 to 10,000 metric tons per year.

“Pilot-project stores are expected to achieve savings over their current utility rates immediately—as soon as the day of operation,” said David Ozment, director of energy, Wal-Mart, Bentonville, Ark.

As part of the program, Wal-Mart signed a 10-year contract with three leading providers of large-scale solar-power systems: BP Solar, SunEdison and PowerLight, a subsidiary of SunPower Corp. SunEdison will provide the four solar-power systems in Hawaii and four in California, while Power-Light and BP Solar will each supply seven systems in California.

The chain will use the power generated by the solar panels on site at each location and will also keep the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) that the units produce, which is unique among solar-power purchases. Enabling Wal-Mart to maintain ownership of the RECs and its stores’ environmental benefits is another important factor in allowing the retailer to reach its goal of being supplied by 100% renewable energy.

San Francisco to Ban Plastic Bags

The Board of Supervisors of San Francisco has passed an ordinance that will prohibit supermarkets and drug stores with annual sales of $2 million from offering standard plastic bags to customers.

The ordinance, thought to be the first of its kind in the nation, takes effect in September. The new rules would, however, allow for the use of bio-degradable plastic bags, which are not widely used today.

San Francisco has one of the most ambitious recycling programs in the country. The city has committed itself to having zero waste (meaning everything is recyclable) by 2020.

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