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Illinois Walgreens Converts To Geothermal Energy

Illinois Walgreens Converts To Geothermal Energy

This year saw lots of major corporations dabbling in renewable energy. While many put up solar panels or found ways to harness the wind, few retailers were brave enough to tap into the vast amount of energy that lies below the earth’s surface.

Late last month, a Walgreens location in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Ill., became the first national drug store retailer to utilize geothermal energy for heating and cooling. In doing so, the pharmacy chain joined the ranks of energy-conscious retailers like Ikea and Sainsbury’s.

Last year, The Village of Oak Park passed an ordinance requiring any retailer that wants to build a commercial property within its village limits to investigate geothermal energy.

“We are always looking for new and creative ways to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Walgreens vice president of facilities development Tom Connolly. “After considering the use of geothermal, we have now made it a reality.”

How Does It Work?

1. The geothermal system harnesses the earth’s heat utilizing a network of four closed-loop boreholes installed to depths of 650 feet, and a heat exchange system with the building that is controlled by Indie Energy EnergyLoop technology.

2. A water-based heat transfer liquid exchanges heating and cooling energy with the earth, which provides a constant temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. 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.

Not only does this sustainable energy alternative reduce the store’s carbon footprint, it 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.

Although geothermal systems are costly to install, and might not be appropriate for all geological regions, interest in their advantages over other forms of renewable energy is growing.

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Image Credit: Flickr - ttarasiuk

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92 comments

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8:33PM PDT on May 14, 2011

awesome!! i always liked walgreens anyway! now more should follow it really is cheaper in time.

8:19AM PST on Feb 10, 2011

Last year, I read about a college up north -- don't remember which state -- that was converting their whole campus to geothermal energy. Their furnaces were old and inefficient, and they weighed the cost of replacing them and the cost of fossil fuel vs. geothermal energy, and decided to replace with it. The initial cost is expensive, but in the long run, it is going to be a savings, big-time -- AND they're eliminating their carbon footprint.

In places where it's feasible, it should be looked into as a renewable source of energy. The earth is boiling hot, and why not use the heat for humans? It's not even a new concept, just recycled for today's world.

9:48AM PST on Jan 8, 2011

i also meant to add that walgreens is trying to be rid of fossil fuels and they are to be commended for trying !!!

9:47AM PST on Jan 8, 2011

to me its still messing with the earth !! 650 into the ground im not to sure about this , it cannot be set up in places that are prone to earthquakes that would just be plain stupid and we would still be relying on a co, instead of being self sufficient !! i am still for solar and wind !!

8:26PM PST on Jan 7, 2011

I didn't believe it till I read the facts...triple the energy efficiency and triple the life span...and the federal credits pick up a third of the cost...unlimited, no cap! It's all in the geothermal hvac book from McGraw. Google "Geothermal Book"

3:11PM PST on Jan 3, 2011

Super news... way to go!!

10:29PM PST on Jan 2, 2011

Good for Walgreens

12:54PM PST on Jan 2, 2011

Thanks at least they are trying! Can't say as much for others.

2:33PM PST on Jan 1, 2011

ty

9:57AM PST on Jan 1, 2011

Very yay, Walgreens!! you have my voting dollar!!

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