Walgreens plans to build what the company believes will be the nation’s first net zero energy retail store in Evanston, IL, which engineers predict will produce energy equal to or greater than it consumes. Walgreens plans to achieve that by utilizing solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal technology, energy-efficient building materials, LED lighting and ultra-high-efficiency refrigeration.
“We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and leading the retail industry in use of green technology,” said Thomas Connolly, Walgreens vice president of 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 percent through several technologies in the store including: more than 800 roof-top solar panels, two wind turbines, geothermal energy obtained by drilling 550-feet 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. Engineering estimates indicate that the store will use 200,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity while generating 256,000 kilowatt hours per year. Walgreens will attempt to have the store achieve LEED Platinum status, which is 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. Through the Better Buildings Challenge, Walgreens has committed to a chain wide 20 percent energy reduction by 2020.