Green bent is evident at new Walgreens unit

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EVANSTON, Ill. — Walgreen Co. has opened what it says is the nation’s first net-zero energy retail store.

Anticipated to produce energy equal to or greater than it consumes, the new store here employs a pair of wind turbines, nearly 850 solar panels and a geothermal system burrowed 550 feet into the ground.

Executives say the store will serve as a learning center to determine how energy-saving features can be added to many of its other stores.

“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,” president of operations and community management Mark Wagner said during the opening ceremony late last month.

“Using the best technologies available, we believe we can accomplish our goal of having the first net-zero energy retail store in America,” he noted. “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.”

Wagner said Walgreens plans to generate electricity and reduce its energy usage in the store by more than 50% through such technologies as roof-top solar panels that are expected to generate enough energy to power 30 homes for a year; the 35-foot-tall wind turbines that can generate enough power to offset annual greenhouse gas emissions from 2.2 passenger cars; and geothermal energy.

LED lighting and daylight harvesting; carbon dioxide refrigerant for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment; and energy-efficient building materials are also contributing to the store’s net-zero energy use.

The engineers involved in constructing the store have estimated that it will use 200,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity while generating 220,000 kilowatt hours a year.
State officials at the store’s opening said they hope it will be the first of many.

“I am proud that an Illinois-based corporation like Walgreens is taking the lead in the use of green technology, which will be a model for all retail operations across the country,” Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said after touring the store.


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