Utilizing solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal technology, Walgreens plans to build what it believes will be the nation's first net zero energy retail store. The location, in Evanston, IL, near its headquarters, promises to produce energy equal to or greater than what it consumes.
Walgreens plans to generate electricity and reduce its usage at the store by more than 40 percent through:
"We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and leading the retail industry in use of green technology," said Thomas Connolly, Walgreens VP of facilities development, in a statement. "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."
Walgreens currently operates two stores that have achieved a LEED certification level of gold and certified; 150 stores utilizing solar power; a store in Oak Park, Ill., using geothermal energy; a distribution center in Waxahachie, TXMA, that generates energy though the use of wind; and 400 locations with electric vehicle charging stations. Many of its stores make use of fluorescent lamps (lowest wattage in the industry), LED cooler and freezer lighting and energy management systems to reduce energy.
A few retailers seem to taking the lead in energy-efficiency. IKEA last fall announced plans to become energy independent by 2020 through its use of solar and wind power. Both Walgreens and IKEA were rated among the top retail companies in terms of energy capacity in a report last year from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Others making the list included Walmart, Costco, Kohl's, Macy's and Staples.
Will the benefits from retailers' energy-efficient initiatives be more closely tied to cost savings or customer goodwill?