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Walgreens taps geothermal energy to power new store in Chicago suburb

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill. In another step toward energy independence and sustainability, Walgreens unveiled what it said is the nation’s first chain drug store to draw on geothermal energy for heating and cooling.

The new store, located in a renovated historic building in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Ill., will harness the earth’s heat to cut its energy usage by roughly 46%, according to company projections. Walgreens partnered with Evanston, Ill.-based Indie Energy, which specializes in designing and installing geothermal systems, to construct a store that conforms to new Village of Oak Park mandates that require any retailer opening a new outlet within its borders to investigate geothermal energy.

Using a “Smart Geothermal” technology system developed by Indie Energy, the new Walgreens will draw power from a network of four closed-loop boreholes installed to depths of 650 ft., and a heat exchange system within the building that is controlled by Indie’s EnergyLoop technology. A water-based heat transfer liquid exchanges heating and cooling energy with the earth, which provides a constant temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Inside the store, the geothermal heat pump and refrigeration systems pull heating energy from the fluid, or reject heat to the fluid to cool. “The EnergyLoop system monitors and optimizes this exchange in real time to provide the maximum energy efficiency,” according to Walgreens spokeswoman Vivika Vergara.

“We are always looking for new and creative ways to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Tom Connolly, Walgreens VP facilities development. “This is the most innovative and sustainable Walgreens yet, and we are proud to showcase our commitment to the environment here in Oak Park.”

An informational kiosk at the store will show customers the rate of energy usage and savings from the geothermal system in real time, Walgreens reported. Besides cutting down on the store’s carbon footprint, Vergara noted, “this sustainable energy alternative … also cuts down on heating and cooling costs. The energy saved at this location alone is equivalent to removing nine cars from the road or planting 43 acres of trees.”

Added Connolly, “This type of system can work anywhere, but makes a lot of sense here in the Midwest. The ability to heat to room temperature from 55 degrees, rather than from 10 degrees or cool it from 98 degrees will save a lot of energy.”

The store also was built with other green features, including:

  • Adimming system for sales floor lighting when natural sunlight is able to brighten most of the sales floor;
  • Polished concrete floors made from recycled content, which “eliminates use of vinyl flooring and will save on maintenance,” according to Vergara;
  • LED lights throughout the store in coolers and in ceiling accent lighting; and
  • Lavatory sinks made entirely from recycled content and hand dryers powered by lights within the lavatory.

“This store provides online, real-time proof of carbon and cost savings, making it a leading example of sustainability,” noted Indie Energy CEO Daniel Cheifetz.

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Mintel releases annual consumer packaged goods trend predictions

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK A “natural shakedown,” a twist on sustainability and “old is new” are some consumer packaged goods trends that are on the horizon for 2011, according to Mintel research.

“These annual predictions represent continuations of current big-picture trends, rather than major changes in the marketplace and what companies are doing,” stated Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel. “Understanding the major trend areas and how they change from year to year is essential for companies to be successful when developing and launching new products.”

Mintel has predicted a dozen consumer packaged goods trends that will impact product development in 2011 spanning across such categories as health and wellness, the environment, demographics, marketing and media, convenience, and indulgence. Six of these core trends include:

  • Quiet reduction: Sodium, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are three well-known ingredients that appear to be experiencing covert reductions in product formulations. While sodium reduction has long been the focus of “quiet reduction,” sugar and HFCS are jumping on board.
  • Redefining natural: While all types of natural claims have grown in importance in all regions and across all product categories, the term “natural” is still ill-defined. Terms that are vague or not well-understood will come under fire, and the industry is due to see an intervention of regulatory bodies, according to Mintel. Also, expect to see a new focus on accentuating the positives of what is in a product, rather than emphasizing what is not in it.
  • Professionalization of the amateur: Mainstream brands are getting into a more serious “professional” arena by bringing into the home what used to require a specialist service. This trend arguably has its origins in personal care markets with “salon-style” hair treatments for home use, but continues to expand to include household (“professional-strength” cleaning products) and food (chef-endorsed, restaurant-style meals).
  • Sustainability stays focused on the basics: Sustainability is not slipping down the priority list; but instead of seeing new developments, expect to see a few twists. There will be a greater focus on reduced packaging that promotes environmental responsibility in combination with uniqueness, such as boxless cereal bars or more cereals without the inner bag. Also, expect water usage to become a hot, consumer-facing issue in 2011. Companies will be looking for ways to conserve water and change their consumption habits.
  • Blurring categories: Manufacturers’ response to consumer needs is the driver to developing hybrid products. Consumers don’t necessarily view products as being in one category or another; rather, they look for solutions that meet their needs, and that may be something that straddles multiple categories. Sparkling beverages are appearing more frequently and being positioned as a source of refreshment, as well as sophistication. Beyond hybrid forms, Mintel also is seeing a blurring of how consumers use products — with beverages consumed as snacks, snacks as meals, and personal care and home care products that do more than one thing, as well.
  • New retro: Over the last year, more big brands have revitalized old products and old ad campaigns, tapping into the escalating trend of nostalgia. Mintel anticipates more of these in 2011. Companies are returning to a time when life seemed somehow easier, whether that’s the 1980s for consumers in their 20s, or the 1970s or 1960s for older consumers. Expect to see this with brands using old formulations, old package designs, re-runs of advertising campaigns or new ads with a retro feel.

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Duane Reade to carry Winning Colours stain remover in January

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK Winning Brands will make its Winning Colours stain remover available in 100 Duane Reade locations starting January 2011, the manufacturer announced on Friday.

The stores will carry the new Winning Colours stain remover 12-unit display pack containing 4-fl.-oz. bottles designed for tight spaces and busy lives.

"Some New Yorkers already know about Winning Colours for paint-mess cleanups, but there are a thousand more drips, drops and disasters at home, work, for patient care and on-the-go that make this a great fit for Duane Reade shoppers," stated Winning Brands CEO Eric Lehner. "The urban experience calls for compact, convenient solutions wherever possible. Reaching for the power, versatility and skin-friendliness of Winning Colours’ 4-fl.-oz. handy size will be a natural thing for pharmacy shoppers to do."

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