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Joel Makower Headshot

McKinney, Texas: America's New Green Heartland?

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What are they putting in the water down there in McKinney, Texas?

About a month ago, Wal-Mart announced that it had opened a “new, more resource-efficient store” in McKinney, which is located about 30 miles north of Dallas. The store features low-VOC paints, low-water grasses and plants for landscaping, and pavement that allows rainwater to filter to the soil in a more natural way. Wal-Mart says it hopes the new store will serve as a environmental benchmark for future retail outlets.

Now, the Dallas Morning News reports that Toyota plans to build the nation’s first certified “green” auto dealership in that same august city. Dealer Pat Lobb says he's looking at everything from solar panels to milk-based paint to recycled rainwater and recycled carpet for the store. Mr. Lobb also is asking the city for an exception to building requirements to allow recycled aluminum composite panel and a possible green wall.

Harvested rainwater? Milk-based paint? I repeat: What’s going on down there?

Okay, so the city’s official motto, according to the city’s Web site, is “Unique by nature.” And true, the city was recently designated as the “fastest-growing city in the United States” -- that is, among U.S. cities with populations over 50,000. So, maybe there’s some insight to be gleaned from those two data points. But not really.

But why would Wal-Mart and Toyota choose McKinney to introduce their good, green innovations?

Anyone have a clue?