Walgreens sets a ZNE goal for new store in Evanston

When a national retailer like Walgreens decides to go for zero-net energy performance in one of its new stores, you have to ask yourself whether this is a watershed moment. Up until now, we’ve seen environmental and educational/training centers, schools and some small office–mostly public buildings, architecture and green/energy efficiency businesses. But, Walgreens? That even got the attention of the New York Times. Most chain retailers that own their properties work off of prototypes for new store construction and renovations. In other words, one store is exactly like the next and the next and so on. If Walgreens’ experiment in Evanston is successful, the retailer could very quickly move the ZNE design prototype forward as its standard for all new stores. Of course, there are many hurdles before then. Primarily, the first question any owner asks when looking at ZNE performance goals, “How much does it cost?” This store will cost twice as much, according to the Times article. But the company hopes to recoup that through lower operating costs, tax credits and utility rebates.

“Higher first costs are part of the education process for ZNE design, construction and operating practices,” said Dave Hewitt, NBI’s director of strategic partnerships. “In Kentucky’s quest to achieve ZNE in schools, the initial project fell short on ZNE. Although, nobody should be upset by that because the school is fantastic in terms of energy performance. After a couple of attempts, the design team has learned enough that it achieved ZNE at Turkey Foot Middle School in Edgewood for a cost on par with the median average for school construction,” he said.