Friday, January 14, 2011

Walgreens: Leading In Corporate LEED Establishments

You see the term "LEED Certified" thrown around a lot. More times than not, you will see this term describing a new office building being constructed out of cleaner materials and utilizing more efficient means of energy consumption.

This is great and I hope the practice only continues to grow, but when it comes down to it, it goes unnoticed. For the most part, the only people noticing these LEED certified changes are the people working within the office building, and even then they don't really see the results until they look at their energy bill.

The transparency of these changes is a mixed blessing:
  • It is good because people have this idea that more efficiency means sacrificing aesthetic value and functionality, so when they don't notice a difference between LEED certified and traditional buildings it proves that there are no sacrifices being mad.
  • It is bad because when people don't notice the changes taking place, it makes it more difficult to transfer these clean practices to people's homes.
This is where Walgreens is doing such a nice job "educating" the general public. Walgreens has been rolling out LEED certified stores in Illinois and is planning to expand their sustainable fleet to other states in the near future. Here is what their store in Chicago has to offer:
The Logan Square Walgreens, nestled in an urban area right off the Kennedy Expressway, features a “green roof” with plants growing on it. The roof also has a white coating to help reduce heating and cooling costs. The store will save nearly 34,000 gallons of water a year with efficient water fixtures. During construction, 85 percent of waste was diverted from landfills. The site was a brownfield which was cleaned up and redeveloped for this project. Coolers, freezers and exterior signs all use LED lights, reducing energy use by 50 percent over fluorescent lighting. The store will save enough electricity to power more than five homes a year. In addition, there is special parking for hybrid vehicles, bike racks and nearby public transportation.
This is great for many environmental reasons, and I don't think I have to hold your hand and explain exactly what those are. What truly is great about this is that hundreds of people walk through this Walgreens every day, and each one is getting a hands on experience of what efficiency can look like.

The store also showcases many different informational signs telling the shoppers about all the different aspects of this green store. This is definitely something that a LEED certified business park can't offer to the general public.

Finally, this just makes good business sense. The most glaring benefits are the water and electricity savings that the store is enjoying:
  • 34,000 gallons of water saved.
  • Cutting enough electricity from their bill to power more than 5 homes a year.
These are real savings that Walgreens can take to the bank.

Also, did you catch the part about the LED lighting?
          You think that their informational signs will praise their lighting?
                    Want to bet that Walgreens will start selling more LED bulbs this year?

I hope more companies follow Walgreens lead and start pursuing these sustainable business practices more aggressively.

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