EVANSTON, Ill. — With its solar panels, wind turbines, and a geothermal system, Walgreens celebrated the official opening of what is believed to be the nation’s first net zero energy retail store, anticipated to produce energy equal to or greater than it consumes.

Located at 635 Chicago Ave. in Evanston, Ill., the store is now open to the public.

“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. Using the best technologies available, we believe we can accomplish our goal of having the first net zero energy retail store in America,” said Mark Wagner, Walgreens president of operations and community management. “Currently, we have facilities that utilize wind turbines, solar installations, and geothermal technologies. 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.”

Walgreens plans to generate electricity and reduce its energy usage in the store by more than 50 percent through several technologies including: nearly 850 rooftop solar panels; two 35-foot-tall wind turbines;
geothermal energy obtained by drilling 550 feet into the ground below the store, where temperatures are constant and can be tapped to heat or cool the store; and more.

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 220,000 kilowatt hours per year.

Thomas Connolly, Walgreens vice president of facilities development, said, “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.”

The store is seeking platinum certification through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, Net Zero Certification through the Living Building Challenge, and has received GreenChill platinum certification through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). GreenChill’s Store 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.

To follow the store’s journey to achieve net zero status and the company’s other green initiatives, visit Walgreens Net Zero Community Facebook page.

Publication date: 12/9/2013

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