Walgreens Building 'Net Zero Energy' Store

Walgreens is planning to build a “net zero energy” store outside of Chicago.

The planned location, in Evanston, Ill., will produce at least as much energy as it consumes, the company estimates.

Walgreen Co., which owns the nation’s largest drugstore chain, is based in nearby Deerfield, Ill., making it easy for the company’s engineers to assess the new store’s energy performance.

This might be the only reason to ever build an energy efficient building of any kind in a place like Chicago, where hot summers and freezing cold winters are the norm. Before it can begin building the new structure, though, the company will need to finish demolishing the 20-year-old drugstore that previously occupied the lot.

The new store will feature 800 solar panels on its tiered roof and two turbines to harness wind energy (tapping the wind in Chicago is probably the best idea of the whole venture). The construction of the green Walgreens will also include drilling 550 feet underneath the store, to tap into geothermal energy. Hundreds of feet below the surface, temperatures are more stable and a geothermal well could help heat and cool the store during the winter and summer, reports Reuters.

The company estimates that the new location will use as much as 200,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity. They’re also estimating that the green features of the new Walgreens will generate 256,000 kilowatt hours per year. Of course, these numbers will fluctuate depending on weather, which again raises the question of why they would want to put this store in Chicago (do plane tickets for engineers really cost that much?).

The store will serve as a testbed for the company, and Walgreen Co. hopes to use the green energy methods on other stores around the country (maybe in sunny, mild Northern California?).

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