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Published on April 10th, 2013 | by Cynthia Shahan


Net-Zero Energy Retail As Walgreens Strikes A Progressive Goal Leading With Example

April 10th, 2013 by  

Walgreens is going to produce more energy than it uses at one of its Midwest stores, what it believes will be the first net-zero energy retail store. The store will use solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal energy, according to the plans. Of course, it will also include energy efficient (like LEDs, green building materials, and “ultra-high-efficiency refrigeration”).

Image Credit: Business Wire

Image Credit: Business Wire

Walgreens is a typical appearance of retail in each corner and strip mall of the US. Now, this traditional marker of commerce becomes a new force of renewable energy use and promotion. As Walgreens aims for net-zero energy at one of its stores, hope of a swiftly shifting retail environment is stimulated in us.

If you shop at Southpoint Plaza, 635 Chicago Ave., Evanston, IL,  you will find the beginnings of the new store that will replace the previous Walgreens. You can also see a visualization above. The store is targeted for opening by Thanksgiving.

“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,” Walgreens writes.

The Evanston branch, close in proximity to Walgreens’s headquarters in Deerfield, Ill. is becoming a green business as the first application of broader corporate change. The city is notable for being a sustainability-minded group of consumers. Walgreen’s Evanston branch aims to reach LEED Platinum status.

Image Credit: hawaii (some rights reserved)

Image Credit: hawaii (some rights reserved)

Ciara McCarthy of The Daily Northwestern reports (via NewEnergyNews): “The construction is part of Walgreens’s general commitment to sustainability, Jamie Meyers said. Walgreens is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, an initiative that aims to decrease energy usage of more than 100 organizations by 20 percent by the year 2020, said Maria Vargas, the program director.”

Thus, Walgreens’ participation in the program commits its stores to a collective endeavor to curb grenhouse gas emissions. Another continuance of this change may be to provide templates to other companies to use, responsively instigating net-zero buildings.

But, as of now, this project requires a lot of collaboration with other businesses. “Over the past year, Walgreens 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 writes.

Continuing from The Daily Northwestern: “Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd), who has been involved in the planning of Walgreens, said, ‘the store will be known nationwide. We’re going to end up with a lot of people wanting to visit it… It’s going to attract people from all over the country.'”

What do you think of this Walgreens? Good PR? Or part of a monumental shift in how major corporations approach their buildings and social/environmental responsibility? Or a mix of both? 


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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, anthropologist, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)

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