American drugstore goliath Walgreens grabbed the headlines recently with an announcement of a plan to build what it claims will be the first “net-zero” retail store on the continent. That this massive, hydra-headed operation — the largest drug retailer in the US — whose 8,100 retail outlets together consume massive gulps of energy in servicing their 6.3 million daily customers, has elected to take such a stand is extraordinary. And heartening.
Through a combination of geothermal heating and cooling energy (dredged up from a site some 167 metres below the store), energy-efficient building materials, LED lighting, more than 800 rooftop-mounted solar panels, ultra-high-efficiency refrigeration technology and two standup wind turbines, this Evanston, IL, store is poised to produce at least as much energy as it eats up.
Walgreens has made efforts on this front before. All of its stores employ 25-watt fluorescent lamps (the lowest in the industry), 400 offer electric vehicle charging stations, 150 are set up with solar power and two boast gold status LEED certification. In addition, 15 of the company’s distribution centres are standouts for generating more revenue from recycling efforts than they spend on getting rid of waste.
Walgreens estimates that this newest initiative, projected to be in place by November, will use only 200,000 kWh of electricity a year. Better yet, it’ll generate 256,000 kWh each year. If all goes according to plan, the new store should achieve net zero status within two years.
We’re all about sustainability here at Canada’s Best Store Fixtures, where our longstanding commitment to leaving things better than we found them includes the use of 100% recycled wood-fibre content in our hardboard backs (which are trimmed with a low-VOC, water-based paint), steel that’s made from recycled materials and an aggressive commitment to recycling everything we can (including packaging, steel offcuts, wood offcuts, light bulbs, paper, plastic and even old computers).