Sporting two wind turbines, 850 solar panels and a geothermal system burrowed 550 feet into the ground,Walgreens has opened the first net-zero energy retail store in the US.
Walgreens is the largest drug store chain in the nation.
Located in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, Walgreen’s president of operations Mark Wagner said at the ribbon cutting, “We have facilities that utilize wind turbines, solar installations and geothermal technologies, but this is the first time we are bringing all three of these technologies and many more together 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.”
Thomas Connolly, Walgreens vice president of facilities development, says, “We are investing in a net-zero energy store so we can bring what we learn to our other stores and share what we learn with other companies. Because we operate more than 8,000 stores, anything we do that reduces our carbon footprint can have a broad, positive impact on the nation’s environment.”
Look closely and you’ll see this store is on Lake Michigan, giving it plenty of wind. You can see one of the wind turbines in front of the Walgreens sign. Solar cascades across the entire roof:
Engineering estimates – which can vary based on weather, store operations and systems performance – indicate the store will use 200,000 kilowatt hours a year of electricity while generating 220,000 kilowatt hours per year.
The store is built with state-of-the-art energy efficient materials, runs fully on LED lights, and uses the most efficient carbon dioxide refrigerant for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment. It has bike racks, a bike repair station and an electric car charging station.
They are participating in Obama Administration’s Better Buildings Challenge, which commits them to reducing energy 20% across the chain by 2020.
Walgreens is seeking LEED-Platinum certification, Net Zero Certification from the Living Building Challenge, and has received GreenChill Platinum certification from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Some of the vendors for the store are: Trane, CREE Lighting, Acuity Lighting, Cooper Lighting, CalStar Products, GE Lighting, GI Energy, SoCore Energy, Osman Construction, Wing Power Energy and Camburas and Theodore Architects.
Walgreens is truly becoming an environmental leader. 150 stores use solar, one runs on geothermal and a distribution center in Texas runs on wind. More than 5000 stores have energy management systems and use LEDs for cooler and freezer lighting. 15 distribution centers have achieved net zero waste. It was one of the first to install electric vehicle charging stations and now 400 stores have them.
Walgreens ranks among the top corporate users of solar energy.
In terms of its products, Walgreens has a private label green products line that spans more than two dozen personal care and household cleaning products. It is also incorporating organic foods and wellness programs in stores, morphing into “wellness” centers that help people stay healthy. It recently came in third for selling the safest cosmetics in stores.