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Walgreens to build nation’s first net-zero energy retail store

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Thursday announced plans to build what the company believes will be the nation’s first net-zero energy retail store, which engineers predict will produce energy equal to or greater than it consumes.  

“We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and leading the retail industry in use of green technology,” stated Thomas Connolly, Walgreens VP facilities development. “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.”

Engineering estimates — which can vary due to such factors as weather, store operations and systems performance — indicate that the store will use 200,000 kilowatt hours per year of electricity while generating 256,000 kilowatt hours per year. Walgreens plans to achieve that net-zero energy status by utilizing solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal technology, energy-efficient building materials, LED lighting and ultra-high-efficiency refrigeration.

The store will be located in Evanston, Ill., at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Keeney Street, where demolition of an existing Walgreens store now is under way. The Chicago-area location will allow convenient access for Walgreens engineers based at the company’s headquarters in Deerfield, Ill., to measure the store’s performance for an entire year to determine if the store reaches its goal of net-zero energy use.

Walgreens will attempt to have the store achieve LEED Platinum status, which is the most stringent green designation by the U.S. Green Building Council, and plans to enter the store into the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge. The store will be Walgreens’ second showcase project in the Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge. Through the Better Buildings Challenge, Walgreens has committed to a chainwide 20% energy reduction by 2020.

Walgreens plans to generate electricity and reduce its usage by more than 40% through several technologies in the store, including:

  • More than 800 rooftop solar panels;

  • Two wind turbines;

  • Geothermal energy obtained by drilling 550 ft into the ground below the store, where temperatures are more constant and can be tapped to heat or cool the store in winter and summer;

  • LED lighting and daylight harvesting;

  • Carbon dioxide refrigerant for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment; and

  • Energy-efficient building materials.

Over the past year, Walgreens engineers have worked with the city of Evanston and vendors, including Trane, CREE Lighting, Acuity Lighting, Cooper Lighting, CalStar Products, GE Lighting, Geothermal International, SoCore Energy, Wing Power and Camburas and Theodore Architects.

“This planned building development reflects the City of Evanston’s ongoing commitment to the constant improvement of sustainable practices in the natural and built environment and will serve as an excellent example of how responsible development and the environment can be harmoniously combined,” stated Evanston mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “Green building is important to Evanston as it is good for business, good for the environment, good for our health and essential to our future. We are honored that Walgreens has chosen our community to build the nation’s first net-zero energy retail store that will be LEED-certified as well.”

Walgreens currently operates two stores that have achieved an 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, Texas, that generates energy through the use of wind; and 400 locations with electric vehicle charging stations. Walgreens stores use 25-watt fluorescent lamps (lowest wattage in the industry), LED cooler and freezer lighting and energy management systems in more than 5,000 locations. In addition, 15 Walgreens distribution centers have achieved net-zero waste, which means revenues from recycling exceed waste expense.

To follow the new store’s two-year journey to achieve net-zero status and the company’s other green initiatives, visit the Net Zero Facebook page

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Bounty introduces cloth-like DuraTowel

BY Jason Owen

CINCINNATI — Bounty, a Proctor and Gamble brand, has unveiled the new DuraTowel, a cloth-like paper towel designed to use instead of reusing dishcloths, which the company said can redeposit millions of germs after just one use.

“Believe it or not, you may think your family’s kitchen is clean after you wipe up with a dishcloth, but surfaces may not be as spotless as they look because your dishcloth is actually hiding a dirty little secret,” said Gregg Weaver, Procter & Gamble research and development engineer for Bounty. “In P&G lab demonstrations, black lights reveal that even after rinsing, used dishcloths can still harbor germs and drag them around. Switching to Bounty DuraTowel means you can feel good about cleaning up knowing you’re using a cleaner alternative than a used dishcloth.”

Some health and hygiene experts agree. “To use a paper towel and then to throw it away is a very smart thing to do, especially on any surface in your kitchen where you’ve been preparing food,” said Elizabeth Scott, founder and co-director of the Simmons Center for Hygiene and Community Settings at Simmons College in Boston. “Dishcloths should be left at the sink for washing only and should be kept away from all other surfaces to cut down on the potential for cross contamination.”

The DuraTowel is made with a durable, fiber-rich design and is ideal for cleaning countertops, sinks and even small appliances, the company noted.

Bounty DuraTowel retails for $3.19 and is available at food and grocery as well as mass retailers nationwide.


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Costco February sales beat analyst estimates

BY Alaric DeArment

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco Wholesale Corp.’s sales increased 8% to $7.58 billion in February, the club retailer said Thursday.

For the 26-week period that ended Sunday, the chain reported sales of $51.35 billion, a 9% increase over February 2012. Comps for the company’s U.S. stores increased 6% during the month and also during the past 26-week period.

For the second quarter and first half of fiscal year 2013, the company reported that sales increased by 8%, to $24.34 billion and by 9%, to $47.55 billion, respectively. Comps during those two periods increased by 5% and 6%, respectively.

"Amidst all of the hand-wringing about a challenged consumer in February, Costco delivered a strong, above-consensus 6% comp gain, which we believe is the product of both terrific product quality and unquestioned value," Guggenheim Partners analyst John Heinbockel wrote in a note to investors, adding that Guggenheim remained concerned with Wall Street estimates of the company’s earnings per share in the second half of 2013 might be too high due to price investments in the United States, Canada and new club expansion costs in Asia. In addition, Heinbockel wrote, Costco’s 85 Canadian stores could face intensified competition as Target expands its reach in the country.

Fresh food and soft lines were the leading product categories, with same-store sales in the high single digits, while U.S. regions with the strongest results were Texas, the Southeast, the Northeast and the Midwest.


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