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Walgreens opens nation’s first net zero energy store


Evanston, Ill. -- Walgreens on Thursday opened what is believed to be the nation’s first net zero energy retail store (a net zero building produces energy equal to or greater than it consumes). Located in Evanston, Ill., the store features two wind turbines, nearly 850 solar panels and a geothermal system burrowed 550 ft. into the ground. Engineering estimates indicate that the new Walgreens will use 200,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity while generating 220,000 kilowatt hours per year.

“As we celebrate the grand opening, we begin a one-year effort to operate a retail store that will generate more energy than it consumes,” said Mark Wagner, president of operations and community management, Walgreens. “Using the best technologies available, we believe we can accomplish our goal of having the first net zero energy retail store in America.”

Walgreens already has facilities that utilize wind turbines, solar installations and geothermal technologies. But the Evanston location marks the first time the drugstore chain has brought together all three of the technologies, and many more, in one place.

“Our purpose as a company is to help people get, stay and live well, and that includes making our planet more livable by conserving resources and reducing pollution,” Wagner said.

Walgreens plans to generate electricity and reduce its energy usage in the store by more than 50% through several technologies including:

  • nearly 850 roof-top solar panels, generating enough energy to power 30 Illinois homes for a year;

  • two 35-ft.-tall wind turbines, using Lake Michigan breezes to generate enough power to offset annual greenhouse gas emissions from 2.2 passenger vehicles;

  • geothermal energy obtained by drilling 550 ft. into the ground below the store, where temperatures are more constant and can be tapped to heat or cool the store in winter and summer;

  • LED lighting and daylight harvesting;

  • carbon dioxide refrigerant for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment; and

  • energy-efficient building materials.

The store is seeking platinum certification through the U.S. Green Building Council LEED program, Net Zero Certification through the Living Building Challenge, and has received GreenChill platinum certification through the U.S. EPA. The GreenChill’s certification program was designed for supermarkets, and this is the first time a GreenChill certification is being awarded to a small-format store, such as a convenience store or pharmacy.

Walgreens’ net zero energy store will be featured at a special super-session at Chain Store Age’s SPECS show, on Monday, March 11, 2014.

The Evanston location also showcases Walgreens’ new “Well Experience” store format with features that include an enhanced, state-of-the-art pharmacy designed to encourage greater interaction between pharmacists and patients. The pharmacy also features an “Ask Your Pharmacist” desk, consultation rooms and an Express Rx kiosk for swift checkout.

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