DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens has announced plans to build what the company believes will be the nation’s first net zero energy retail store, which engineers predict will produce energy equal to or greater than it consumes. Walgreens plans to achieve that goal by utilizing solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal technology, energy-efficient building materials, LED lighting, and high-efficiency heating, cooling, and 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.”

The store will be located in Evanston, Ill., where demolition of an existing Walgreens store is now underway. The Chicago-area location will allow convenient access for Walgreens engineers based at the company’s headquarters in Deerfield, Ill., to measure the store’s performance for an entire year to determine if the store reaches its goal of net zero energy use.

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

• More than 800 rooftop 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;

• CO2 refrigerant for heating, cooling, and refrigeration equipment; and

• Energy efficient building materials.

Engineering estimates — which can vary due to factors such 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.

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

Walgreens will attempt to have the store achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (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 U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge. Through the Better Buildings Challenge, Walgreens has committed to a chain wide 20 percent energy reduction by 2020.

To follow the new store’s two-year journey to achieve net zero status, visit

Publication date: 3/25/2013