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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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Too much negativity
By backbydemand on 3/12/2013 1:00:54 PM , Rating: 3
There are far too many negative posts on this:-
"This is not new, other people have dome it first"
"Winter sun will not generate much electricity"
"LED lights are expensive"

OK then, let's not bother then shall we? Seeing as it will take about 15 to 20 years to make back the cost of installation, let's just ignore the environment and keep burning coal and oil.

This is not a race, someone will always be in front of you but at least they are putting in the effort. OK Wnter sun may not generate much electricity, but the idea is to have the panels up all year round, you may get low amounts in winter but you will get lots in summer, it all gets fed into the power grid and the average over the year is an acceptable reduction in CO2 and your electricity usage. LEDs are not as expensive as they used to be and I have kitted out my entire house with them. They will pay for themselves in less than 18 months.

Seriously a lot of you need to get a grip, they are spending a lot of money and doing something that will help the environment, it will only turn any serious profit for them after decades of use - and you find interesting ways to piss all over what they do - applaude the effort, if you must moan at someone try directing it at the companies that have no intention of displaying any green credentials




RE: Too much negativity
By augiem on 3/12/2013 2:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
One major benefit of having net-positive stores, which this design seems to be rather than net-zero, is that you essentially start to decentralize energy production. Fast forward to the future where the majority of retail space is net-positive and you suddenly have a very different looking grid which may be less susceptible to certain problems like terrorism, mechanical failure, etc. Of course there are other disadvantages to a decentralized system such as maintenance requirements over a huge geographical area, the inability to ramp-up production as demand rises, etc. There will probably always be a need for a power plants.

There has also been talk of using plug-in hybrids as part of the grid in an energy storage network. Ideas like this could work together with the net-positive retail space to address problems like solar over/under production depending on weather, etc. Anyway, moves like this have the potential to change the future of energy in interesting ways.


RE: Too much negativity
By theapparition on 3/12/2013 2:57:46 PM , Rating: 2
Often times, "green" isn't quite as green as you think it is. And that's why many don't agree with taking drastic action. Sometimes going green is actually more harmful to the environment.

Years ago, Greenpeace fought tooth and nail, everything they had, to rally against Nuclear power and advocating for coal as an alternative. They've since reluctantly reversed their stance, now that evil CO2 is the culprit.

Making solar cells isn't too green. A lot of energy is consumed in their manufacture, plus a lot of hazardous waste is generated. But you never see this so you think it's OK. Out of sight, out of mind.

CFLs, cost more in energy to produce than incandescent bulbs. Plus they have a hazardous material component that will certainly be an issue later. I can only imagine the phosphorus in the drinking water stories we'll see later.

LEDs are certainly the way to go, but you can't force it and they aren't the best solution for all implementations. But point is, a lot of the "green" tech isn't too green right now. Some is actually less green than the current alternatives, just it's behind the scenes so people don't consider it. We need to be smart about improving efficiency, not force it and let the market evolve naturally. If a new tech makes sense, then it will be rapidly adopted.


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