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Walgreens To Build First Net-Zero Energy Retail Store

Walgreens says it will build the country’s first net-zero energy retail store, producing energy equal to or greater than it consumes.

The project is the latest of several sustainability initiatives for the company, including two stores that have achieved LEED gold certification, 150 stores utilizing solar power and 400 locations with electric vehicle charging stations.

The store will be constructed near in Evanston, Illinois, on the site of an existing Walgreens. The company says it will reduce energy consumption by more than 40 percent by installing 800-plus rooftop solar panels, two wind turbines and drilling 550 feet into the ground below the store to tap geothermal energy. LEDs will light the store and carbon dioxide refrigerants will be used for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment.

Once completed, engineers from Walgreens’ nearby Deerfield, Illinois headquarters will monitor the store’s performance to determine if the net zero energy goal is achieved. Walgreens engineers estimate the store will use around 200,000 kilowatts per year while generating more than 250,000 kilowatts annually.

“We are investing in developing a net-zero store so we can learn the best way to bring these features to our other stores,” said Thomas Connolly, Walgreens vice president of facilities development.

The company expects the store to achieve LEED Platinum status, the most stringent green designation given by the U.S. Green Building Council. The site will be Walgreens’ second showcase project in the Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge.

In late 2011, Walgreens joined President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge, an effort to spur job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades and reduce energy costs for U.S. businesses by nearly $40 billion.

Through the Challenge, Walgreens has committed to a chain-wide 20 percent energy reduction by 2020.