Print 26 comment(s) - last by JediJeb.. on Mar 13 at 11:57 AM

Walgreens plans to build a facility that makes more energy than it needs

Walgreens is a pharmacy chain within the United States that seems to have several stores in just about every modestly sized city. Like many large corporations, the company is working hard to reduce the amount of energy that its locations consume. Part of this push is to gain itself some green credibility and another part of the push is to help reduce the amount of money the company spends on electricity.

Walgreens has announced that it will use a number of green technologies to construct a zero energy retail store. The company believes that the location will be the first net zero energy store within the United States.
“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, in an interview with Energy Manager Today.
The company will rely on large solar panel arrays, geothermal energy, wind turbines, and LED lighting. Individually, these technologies have all been around for a number of years.

For instance, Philips offers its Hue LED light bulb for anyone who wants to try out green lighting. The good part about Hue LED light bulb and a myriad of other brands that are available on the market is that not only do they consume significantly less energy than a traditional incandescent light bulb, but many of them also allow you to tune the color of the light to your preference.

LED bulbs also last much longer than a traditional incandescent bulbs and produce less heat. In a large retail environment with a huge number of bulbs there is a potential to significantly reduce the energy needed to cool a location thanks to less heat output from an LED bulb.
Solar panels will play a big part in the zero energy building Walgreens is constructing. The concept drawings of the facility show the entire roofing surface covered with solar panels. It's unclear what sort of solar panels Walgreens will use, but they will undoubtedly be among the most efficient available on the market.

Geothermal electricity production is also nothing new. Back in 2009 researchers at MIT developed a new process that they believe can provide 10% of the electricity needed in America by 2050. Geothermal energy, much like solar power, produces little or no pollution and doesn't require fossil fuels to produce electricity.

Walgreens plans to build its zero energy location in Evanston, Illinois. The building will be constructed at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Keeney Street. There is an existing Walgreens location at that address that is now being demolished to clear the way for one of the greenest retail buildings in the country.

Walgreens estimates that the store will require 200,000 kWh of electricity per year and will generate 256,000 kWh of energy each year. Energy production from the store will of course vary depending on weather, store operations, and the system performance.

Sources: Inhabitat, Forbes, Facebook

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light efficiency
By daboom06 on 3/12/2013 10:05:50 AM , Rating: 2
who's comparing lighting efficiency to incandescent bulbs anymore? the led bulbs are better than CFLs. it's not as big of an improvement, but those are the technologies that leds are aimed at surpassing.

RE: light efficiency
By DanNeely on 3/12/2013 10:37:35 AM , Rating: 2
It's all about marketing. Comparing to CFLS would be something like 10% more efficient for 10x the cost and would only break even if the LED bulb last 10 times as long as it will.

At current prices they only make economic sense vs CFLs if your power is exceptionally expensive (ex a cabin run from solar+batteries or a generator), disruption from bulb failure outages (ex traffic lights), or replacement is difficult/expensive/dangerous (commercial buildings or cathedral ceilings where a ladder is needed to access the fixture).

RE: light efficiency
By Sivar on 3/12/2013 11:02:40 AM , Rating: 2
The main benefit of LEDs over CFLs is that LED lights last much, much longer in many real-world situations (though Walgreens lighting is not one of them).

CFLs hate being power cycled and, in hall lights and similar uses, often last no longer than much cheaper incandescents.

LEDs can be power cycled many times per second and not care.

Other benefits include better cold weather performance, less sensitivity to heat, and real dimmability. Downsides include much higher cost, lower light output per unit of cubic bulb area (for now).

RE: light efficiency
By theapparition on 3/12/2013 12:00:46 PM , Rating: 2

CFLs are horrible at power cycling. I haven't bought a new incandescent bulb in years, yet I was constantly replacing the ones in the bathrooms. Heck, I still had some incandescent bulbs in there while the CFLs had gone through several iterations of bulbs.

Got tired of CFLs and now LEDs run most everywhere practical now. Won't buy another CFL.

RE: light efficiency
By talikarni on 3/12/2013 4:15:51 PM , Rating: 2
CFLs are horrible at power cycling.

That is the main issue and why the gov't is trying to outlaw standard bulbs.
Standard 10-40 cents per bulb versus $3 per CFL
Standards can last years whether its on constantly or only on 2 minutes per day versus the CFL only lasts long if it is in a fixture that is on for long periods of time (more than an hour at a time).

This is why my house has a mixture. The rooms that tend to have lights on for longer periods use CFL (living room, garage, kitchen, office), the rest have standard bulbs (bathrooms, closets, storage areas, hallway). I also use CFLs outside since it rarely gets cold enough here to mess with the lighting (north Florida).

The main thing holding back adoption of even CFLs on a large scale are its limits, the short life in high power cycling rooms, temperature aversion, even cost. The average person would still rather buy a 4 pack for $1 (Standards) than a 3 pack for $6 (CFL). If they won't spend an extra $2-3 per bulb, then LEDs at minimum $10 each is no bueno.

RE: light efficiency
By JediJeb on 3/13/2013 11:57:36 AM , Rating: 2
I use CFL outside on my porch lights but during the winter I just leave them on all the time, otherwise it takes ten minutes for them to even light up completely. Even then running all day they use less energy than a regular bulb running only at night.

Inside I have had to revert to regular bulbs or LEDs because most of the lighting fixtures are inclosed and CFLs really don't last long inside one of those. Trouble I am having is finding open fixtures that both look good and don't cost a fortune. I am slowly replacing the inclosed fixtures where I can, because even the LEDs prefer the open ones, just not as sensitive as the CFLs.

RE: light efficiency
By Akrovah on 3/12/2013 6:32:10 PM , Rating: 2
CFLs are horrible at power cycling

That explains the issues I've been havign with them, having to replace so called "long lasting" CFLs mroe often then I did the incandescents.

Didn't know about the cycling burnout. Guess it really is time for me to start migrating to LEDs.

RE: light efficiency
By Solandri on 3/12/2013 3:16:47 PM , Rating: 2
The main benefit of LEDs over CFLs is that LED lights last much, much longer in many real-world situations (though Walgreens lighting is not one of them).

This. And I disagree that Walgreens is not one of them.

When you start to get to large buildings and warehouses with high roofs, the labor cost to change burned-out bulbs is frequently a bigger factor than the cost of the electricity they use.

RE: light efficiency
By Souka on 3/12/2013 3:49:40 PM , Rating: 2
Did I miss it in the article...

How much more will the zero-energy option cost? how many years to earn back the expense? Lifespan of the design?

It's nice to be "zero-energy" but business must be profitable to survive and adding green-costs can hurt a business.

RE: light efficiency
By Dorkyman on 3/12/2013 11:07:39 PM , Rating: 2
Walgreens is not doing this to "save money." They are doing this either because the regional manager is a liberal wuss who feels a need to "save the planet," or because Walgreens senior management feels the need to kiss up to the tree huggers.

RE: light efficiency
By MadMan007 on 3/13/2013 6:09:27 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe you need to read the article. If the numbers are accurate, the store can generate more electricity than it uses and sell it back to the utilities, actually generating a positive return.

But yeah, it's cool for you to bash a business as tree-hugging hippies, and pretend like there's no business case for it.

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