When I think about a perfect afternoon, I imagine sitting on a blanket in the middle of a park looking up at a big blue sky listening to the sounds of birds chirping in the background. Walgreen Company is doing their part to make sure that future generations have the opportunity to experience my perfect afternoon by building the nation’s first net zero energy retail store in Evanston, Ill. Customers of the new store located at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Keeney Street will get to experience energy-efficient building materials, LED lighting and ultra-high-efficiency refrigeration. All of this innovation will help the Deerfield, Ill based company build a retail store that engineers predict will produce energy equal to or greater than it consumes. Zero net energy buildings have zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually. The Walgreens store will harvest renewable energy from solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal technology.
“We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and leading the retail industry in use of green technology,” said Thomas Connolly, Walgreens vice president of facilities development. “We are investing in developing a net-zero store so we can learn the best way to bring these features to our other stores. Because we operate 8,000 stores, we believe our pursuit of green technology can have a significant positive impact on the nation’s environment.”
In addition to achieving a net zero energy location, the company has a goal to reach LEED Platinum status. In order to reach Platinum status the project is required to obtain 80 points from a checklist created by the U.S. Green Building Council. Optimized Energy Performance, On-site Renewable Energy and Green Power such as that provided by the more than 800 roof-top panels and two wind turbines can provide up to 28 of those required points. Engineering estimates indicate that the store will use approximately 200,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity while generating 256,000 kilowatt from solar panels installed by Chicago based SoCore Energy and wind turbines. Products and designs from vendors such as Trane, CREE Lighting, Acuity Lighting, Cooper Lighting, CalStar Products, GE Lighting, Geothermal International, and Wing Power will help reach that coveted Platinum certification.
Through the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, Walgreens has committed to a chain wide 20 percent energy reduction by 2020. The Better Buildings Challenge is public-private initiative with a goal to make commercial and industrial buildings more energy efficient. As part of this commitment, Walgreens signed a contract with SolarCity to equip 22 Colorado stores with solar panel systems.
“Partners in the Better Buildings Challenge are leading by example, showing firsthand how energy efficient buildings save money by saving energy,” said David Danielson, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy at the Department of Energy. “The investments made through the Better Buildings Challenge are helping to cut energy waste while saving millions in energy costs, creating jobs nationwide and helping to position the United States to lead in the global economy.”
Construction started in late March with a goal of a November store opening. The process began as contractors demolished the existing building at the location while looking for opportunities to reuse as much of the previous location as possible. According to C&D Recycling, 201.68 tons of the old store will be recycled into other building materials such as bricks, concrete and metal. Over the next few months, the vision of Walgreen Company and the design of Camburas and Theodore Architects will rise from the dirt and could change the future of commercial construction.
For further information and to get updates on construction, check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Walgreens-Net-Zero-Community/141953242640364