Walgreen Co. plans to construct a net zero energy retail store, meaning that it aims to produce energy equal to or greater than what it consumes.

Walgreens, net zero energy retail store, Evanston, net zero store, Thomas Connolly, green technology, LEED Platinum status, U.S. Green Building Council, International Living Future Institute's Living Building Challenge, energy reduction

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Walgreens to build net zero energy store

March 7th, 2013

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. plans to construct a net zero energy retail store, meaning that it aims to produce energy equal to or greater than what it consumes.

Walgreens said Thursday that the company thinks such a store would be a first in the United States.

To achieve the net zero status, the store — to be located in Evanston, Ill. — would use solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal technology, energy-efficient building materials, LED lighting and ultra-high-efficiency refrigeration.

Demolition of an existing Walgreens store now is under way at the net zero store site, situated at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Keeney Street in Evanston. Walgreens said the Chicago-area location will provide convenient access for engineers at the company's Deerfield, Ill., headquarters to measure the store's performance for an entire year to determine if it reaches net zero energy use.

"We are investing in developing a net zero store so we can learn the best way to bring these features to our other stores," Thomas Connolly, vice president of facilities development at Walgreens, said in a statement. "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 said it plans to generate electricity and cut its use by over 40% via 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, according to Walgreens.

The company noted that, over the past year, its 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.

Walgreens added that it will attempt to have the store achieve LEED Platinum status, which the company said 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 retailer said that through the challenge, it has committed to a chainwide 20% energy reduction by 2020.