August 30th, 2012 | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: City Hall, Business, Activism, Environment

Walmart Building Portland's Largest Ecoroof, But Still Has Enemies in City Hall

honkWalmart protesters in Oak Grove - No Oak Grove Walmart

 A story in this week's WW shows Portland officials—including Mayor Sam Adams and both mayoral candidates—scaling back the city's anti-Walmart stance as the shopping giant's mobile-software division, WalmartLabs, moves into a downtown office.

But Walmart is also making concessions to Portland culture. 

As reported in the Daily Journal of Commerce on Monday, the new Walmart breaking ground on Hayden Meadows in North Portland, will boast the city's largest ecoroof.

"We recognize that being an efficient business and a good steward of the environment are not mutually exclusive," Walmart spokeswoman Rachel Wall tells WW. "Walmart has worked with the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services on the design of the ecoroof throughout the project."

The 40,600 square foot ecoroof, covered in a "perennial plant sedum" and taller plants along the edges, will be visible from Interstate 5. It's the company's second plant-covered roof.

"Walmart has one other store with an EcoRoof, in Chicago," Wall says. "The project in Chicago allows us to test the performance of the innovative system in a cold, harsh winter weather environment. The new store in Portland provided us an opportunity to design and build an EcoRoof in a moderate climate."

But Walmart may still face a chilly reception from City Hall.

As recently as last month, City Commissioner-elect Steve Novick and mayoral candidate Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland) spoke at a protest against a proposed Walmart supercenter in Oak Grove.

"We have an economic system that over the last 30 years has figured out how to screw people more than it's figured out how to help and serve people," Smith told the protesters. "And if we don't figure out how we can have retail that serves people—and doesn't just serve as a way to suck the wealth out of a community and send it out of state—we're not going to figure out how to build that kind of economy. This is very much about Walmart."

Smith takes a more conciliatory tone regarding WalmartLabs in this week's WW.

"I don’t think Walmart stores fit within our strategic plan very well," he says. "But if a company is making an investment, how much do we sacrifice our ideology? There are times that we say, ‘No Chick-Fil-A.’ And there are times we say the mayor isn’t supposed to be the morality police.”

Watch the Oak Grove protest below.


 
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