Walgreens to build nation’s first net zero energy retail store

Deerfield, Ill. -- Walgreens announced plans to build what the company believes will be the nation’s first net-zero energy retail store. The store, which is predicted to produce energy equal to or greater than it consumes, will be located in Evanston, Ill., at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Keeney Street, where demolition of an existing Walgreens store now is under way.

Engineering estimates — which can vary due to such factors as weather, store operations and systems performance — indicate that the store will use 200,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity while generating 256,000 kilowatt hours per year.
“We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and leading the retail industry in the use of green technology,” stated Thomas Connolly, Walgreens VP facilities development. “We are investing in developing a net-zero store so we can learn the best way to bring these features to our other stores. Because we operate 8,000 stores, we believe our pursuit of green technology can have a significant positive impact on the nation’s environment.”

Walgreens plans to generate electricity and reduce its usage by more than 40% through several technologies in the store including:

  • More than 800 roof-top solar panels;
  • Two wind turbines;
  • 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 drugstore retailer will seek to have the store achieve LEED Platinum status, the most stringent green designation by the U.S. Green Building Council, and plans to enter the store into the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge. The store will be Walgreens' second showcase project in the Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge.

The store’s Evanston location is close to Walgreens’ headquarters in Deerfield, Ill., which will allow convenient access for the company’s engineers to measure the store’s performance for an entire year to determine if the store reaches its goal of net-zero energy use.

Over the past year, Walgreens engineers have worked with the city of Evanston and vendors, including Trane, CREE Lighting, Acuity Lighting, Cooper Lighting, CalStar Products, GE Lighting, Geothermal International, SoCore Energy, Wing Power and Camburas and Theodore Architects.

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