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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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RE: no way
By theapparition on 3/12/2013 12:13:55 PM , Rating: 2
Solar panels react to the radiation from the sun not the heat


and a cloudy day with fluffy cumulus clouds can actually increase the power from solar panels above that of a clear summers day by reflecting the radiation back to panels a number of times.

So incorrect, it's not even funny.

Stand outside on a sunny day and a cloudy day, and then tell me which day do you feel like you've absorbed more energy? I could go into this much deeper on a technical level, but the simplistic common sense approach is obvious.

I also have solar panels on our main home and can unequivocally tell you that they make less power when it's cloudy. Full sun their production spikes through the roof (no pun intended). Furthermore, winter tends to have:
1. Shorter periods of light
2. Cloudier/hazy weather more often.

The OP is somewhat correct. Winter will be a challenge. Also, snow covering the panel is a sure way to generate no electricity at all. Illinois isn't the most ideal location for solar. Now, there's no reason that the right setup can't still work in winter, but it is more difficult to predict.

Finally, and the most important aspect, what happens at night with no light? No doubt they are talking about a back-generation system with net result of close to zero. They'll still be hooked to the grid. From my own experience, Walgreen's will have an overproduction in the summer and underproduction in the winter. If they size it right and use energy saving LEDs, then it's not that hard to have a yearly net zero or even slightly positive energy generation.

But you still have to be hooked to a grid and have the square area required for a large solar array. For now, solar continues to be a supplemental source of energy, not a viable singular path.

RE: no way
By Solandri on 3/12/2013 3:27:05 PM , Rating: 2
The OP is somewhat correct. Winter will be a challenge. Also, snow covering the panel is a sure way to generate no electricity at all. Illinois isn't the most ideal location for solar. Now, there's no reason that the right setup can't still work in winter, but it is more difficult to predict.

If you visit a Costco or Walmart warehouse store, you'll see they solved this problem a slightly different and more sensible way. Instead of collecting solar energy via PV panels, converting it to electricity at 16% efficiency, which then powers light bulbs which convert 1%-10% of that electricity to light, they just cut straight to the chase.

They installed skylights that let in 100% of the sunlight which hits them. During they day they don't have to turn on as many lights. During night they turn on the extra lights.

Indoor lighting doesn't have to be as bright as sunlight, so the skylights are a small portion of the roof area. Meaning there's still plenty of room for solar panels if they want. But they're not doing the pointless light -> electricity -> light conversion.

RE: no way
By Akrovah on 3/12/2013 6:40:19 PM , Rating: 2
I've found those stores slightely disconcerting to shop in, as a cloud moving by dims the light in the store. Same effect as a cloud has when you are outside but having the same effect indoors just wigged me a little bit at first for some reason.

Got used to it of course, but it was still errie.

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