Walgreen Co. said one of its Chicago-area pharmacies is the nation's first drug store to use geothermal energy for heating and cooling.

Walgreens, geothermal energy, Oak Park, heating, cooling, drug store, pharmacies, geothermal system, Tom Connolly, Indie Energy

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Chicago-area Walgreens employs geothermal energy

November 9th, 2010

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. said one of its Chicago-area pharmacies is the nation's first drug store to use geothermal energy for heating and cooling.

The company said Monday that the store, in the suburb of Oak Park, Ill., is expected to reduce its energy use by about 46% as a result of the geothermal system.

"This is the most innovative and sustainable Walgreens yet, and we are proud to showcase our commitment to the environment here in Oak Park," Walgreens vice president of facilities development Tom Connolly said in a statement. "We are always looking for new and creative ways to reduce our carbon footprint. After considering the use of geothermal, we have now made it a reality."

According to Walgreens, Oak Park last year passed an ordinance requiring any retailer that wants to build a commercial property within the village to investigate geothermal energy. Walgreens worked on the Oak Park store with Evanston, Ill.-based Indie Energy, which specializes in geothermal systems. The firm's Smart Geothermal technology system significantly cuts heating and cooling costs and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the drug chain said.

The Oak Park Walgreens geothermal system harnesses the earth's heat via a network of four closed-loop boreholes installed to depths of 650 feet and a heat exchange system with the building controlled by Indie Energy's EnergyLoop technology. A water-based heat transfer liquid exchanges heating and cooling energy with the earth, which provides a constant temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Inside the store, the geothermal heat pump and refrigeration systems pull heating energy from the fluid, or reject heat to the fluid to cool. The EnergyLoop system monitors and optimizes this exchange in real-time to provide the maximum energy efficiency.

"This type of system can work anywhere, but makes a lot of sense here in the Midwest," explained Connolly. "The ability to heat to room temperature from 55 degrees, rather than from 10 degrees or cool it from 98 degrees, will save a lot of energy."

Walgreens noted that the energy saved at the store is equivalent to removing nine cars from the road or planting 43 acres of trees. An informational kiosk at the store will show customers energy usage and savings from the geothermal system in real time.

Other "green" features at the Oak Park store include a dimming system for sales floor lighting when natural sunlight is able to brighten most of the sales floor; polished concrete floors made from recycled content; LED lights are used throughout the store in coolers and in ceiling accent lighting; lavatory sinks made entirely from recycled content; and hand dryers powered by lights within the lavatory.