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Earth Power Technology

Walgreens To Build First Self-Powered Retail Store 186

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-in-one dept.
MojoKid writes "We hear about green deployment practices all the time, but it's often surrounding facilities such as data centers rather than retail stores. However, Walgreens is determined to go as green as possible, and to that end, the company announced plans for the first net zero energy retail store. The store is slated to be built at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Keeney Street in Evanston, Illinois, where an existing Walgreens is currently being demolished. The technologies Walgreens is plotting to implement in this new super-green store will include solar panels and wind turbines to generate power; geothermal technology for heat; and efficient energy consumption with LED lighting, daylight harvesting, and 'ultra-high-efficiency' refrigeration."
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Walgreens To Build First Self-Powered Retail Store

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  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by longbot (789962) <longbottle AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday March 17, 2013 @04:21PM (#43198457) Homepage
    ...is it powered by the tears of employees?
    • Re:But... (Score:4, Funny)

      by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Sunday March 17, 2013 @04:48PM (#43198613) Homepage
      I think Walmart has that patented.
    • by jhoegl (638955)
      Epic comment.
      But lets be clear here, Walmart is doing everything to reduce costs so the family owners can scrape in more and give back less.
      If they could use employee tears to power their facility at a lower cost, you know they would.
      • by hedwards (940851)

        And ironically enough, that means higher taxes for everybody else as they purposefully fail to pay a living wage or provide any sort of benefits. And, undercut the local retailers leaving no jobs either before they move onto a new community to suck dry.

        • Re:But... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by lgw (121541) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @07:38PM (#43199561) Journal

          Walmart is quite cheap. Far more people work there than shop there. It's a net win - just like factory automation reducing the number of factory workers is a net win. Also, Walmart really pisses off hipsters, so it's twice as good.

          Higher taxes for everyone else comes from voting for bigger government, not from Walmarts.

          And, undercut the local retailers leaving no jobs either before they move onto a new community to suck dry.

          Riiiight, just like the industrial revolution destroyed everyone's standard of living by putting all those local craftsmen out of work. Reducing the cost of products and services is called "technology" and it's a good thing, despite the workers it always displaces.

          • by Belial6 (794905)
            People do seem to forget that before Walmart there was Sears. They not only filled the role of Walmart before Walmart existed, they also filled the roll of Amazon. Needed a hammer? Go to Sears. Needed a bathtub? Go to Sears. Heck, Needed a house? Go to Sears.
          • by kermidge (2221646)

            "Reducing the cost of products and services is called "technology" and it's a good thing"

            Reducing the cost of products and services is called saving money. Technology is applying scientific knowledge for practical purposes, or the devices that do so. Of course using tech can lead to savings but it's not automatic and there are other ways to reduce costs.

            Not if the products are inferior in design, suitability, durability, or industrial detritus; or the services provide less service in amount, kind, or outc

          • by copponex (13876)

            It's a net win - just like factory automation reducing the number of factory workers is a net win. Also, Walmart really pisses off hipsters, so it's twice as good

            Yeah, I fucking replaced ten people with one robot, and I was the last manufacturing business in town. It's a win-win! Well, if you count me twice. Which I do.

            Higher taxes for everyone else comes from voting for bigger government, not from Walmarts.

            Oh, Fuck. Off. When Walmart drives out all of the Mom and Pops where any slacker in the 90s could ea

          • Re:But... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @11:51PM (#43200607)

            Walmart is quite cheap. Far more people work there than shop there.

            Now that's quite the business plan. Less patrons than customers.

            Also, Walmart really pisses off hipsters, so it's twice as good.

            Higher taxes for everyone else comes from voting for bigger government, not from Walmarts.

            You just got back from Palin's speech at CPAC didn't you?

            Reducing the cost of products and services is called "technology" and it's a good thing, despite the workers it always displaces.

            As long as it isn't a race to the bottom, on that we agree. This disruption is going to be pretty interesting. We're reaching the era where humans will be freed from any sort of manual labor.

            I was listening to a TED talk today on what the future might hold. One presenter pointed out that the industrial revolution came along and allowed humans to extend their physical strength and dexterity in the production of devices. So much that it made a mockery of everything that came before. Now we are in an information age, where what we can know via our connections to the world. You and I can can access the same info that a dullard woth a smartphone can. Ther success or failure will depend on whether a person uses this new power to actually do something, or if they are contented to tweet and contact bff's on Facebook.

            This will very likely make a severely striated two society system for some time. There will probably come a time when we try to figure out what people are going to do to earn their keep. I know that there aren't many professions now that cannot be performed by machinery. Beyond that, we'll settle down into a new world that will essentially make a mockery of the one we are in now.

      • Re:But... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by germansausage (682057) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @08:00PM (#43199699)
        I know everybody loves to bash Walmart, but is really justified? At the risk of greatly oversimplifying, you can help poor people by 1. getting them more money, or 2. making the things they need to buy cost less. Walmart is working very hard at doing thing 2. Do you think Walmart's margins are higher or lower than the retail industry average?
        • Re:But... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Rockoon (1252108) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @08:33PM (#43199877)
          That is what the tribalists dont understand.

          When things are cheaper because of greater efficiencies, everyone involved wins.

          In truly free trade, everyone wins. Whenever I am better at A's than B's, and you are better at B's than A's, then trading is of benefit to both of us.

          Thats regardless of any other factors. For instance, I can also be better at B's than you are at B's, yet trade still benefits both of us because no matter how much better I am then you at B's, I am still better at A's than B's.

          The complaints about companies like walmart are cloud and mirrors around the idea that you may not be good enough at either A's or B's to make a reasonable living (= low wages.) But this really isn't an argument against walmart.. the problem is skills. Those attacking walmart and corporations like it won't improve anyones skills, but may end up costing people their low skill jobs.
          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            I don't know about Walmart because I don't live in the US, but the objections to UK supermarkets are that they are impersonal and give bad service, combined with screwing suppliers. Farmers can't afford to produce milk ethically because their biggest customers demand factory farming level prices.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              I love impersonal places. I hate having smalltalk with a 85 year old grocery bagger. Just sell me my shit so I can leave, I don't need to see a friendly face and exchange ``how are you''s with people just to buy a loaf of bread.
          • by Belial6 (794905)
            The whole thing gets even more complicated when you add in the fact that we are rapidly approaching (if not a good distance past) the point that there simply isn't enough work for everyone to do. It doesn't necessarily matter that you might be better at A and I am better at B. If you are better at A, good enough at B and automation has made it cheaper to have one person doing A and B, it may not matter if I am better at B.

            That still isn't a knock against Walmart. It is a knock against our collective i
            • That still isn't a knock against Walmart. It is a knock against our collective inability to accept that at some point, we just don't have enough legitimate work for everyone.

              While there are people working and collecting double-overtime and working 7-day work weeks, the "not enough legitimate work" statement doesn't hold up. It may be true, but while workplaces either hold worker hours down (to avoid paying additional benefits like health care) or up (to avoid paying benefits like health care on an additional body), it will be difficult to get a clear picture on actual available work.

              • by Belial6 (794905)
                Not having enough legitimacy work for everyone and having those who are working doing overtime are not exclusive. You are right that the overtime issue does muddy the waters. I see the overtime is as the effect of not enough jobs supposed to the cause.

                Not having enough jobs leads to over apply of labor. Over supply of labor leads to a disproportionate amount of power in company hands. This disproportionate power leads to companies redefining 'salary' from 'pay to get the job done without counting hours'
          • by div_2n (525075)

            Just because things are cheaper does NOT mean everyone involved wins.

            Mathematically speaking, Wal-Mart is a huge vacuum sucking money out of communities. The profits they are making? It's money sucked out of communities.

        • Honestly, I've shopped at Wal-Mart for many years now, because I've always lived conveniently close to one, and it was open late at night when I had time to shop for things.

          To a large extent, I think the chain is currently a victim of the "I'm too cool to set foot in there!" attitude. Web sites like "People of Wal-Mart" do their best to poke fun at the type of shoppers found there, while conveniently ignoring the fact that all those people don't just vanish into thin air as soon as they're done with their W

        • by Rumeal (2164720)

          I know everybody loves to bash Walmart, but is really justified? At the risk of greatly oversimplifying, you can help poor people by 1. getting them more money, or 2. making the things they need to buy cost less. Walmart is working very hard at doing thing 2. Do you think Walmart's margins are higher or lower than the retail industry average?

          There are other sides to this, though, such as employment. It is taken as a given that Walmart's entry into a market places downward pressure on prices, and that there are benefits from this. However, their entry into a market also places downward pressure on wages. Making things cost less only helps if it isn't outweighed by reductions in pay. The price reductions from Walmart (generally a good thing) end up being distributed across the income scale, but the lower-income segments alone face the decrease in

        • by Reziac (43301) *

          Walmart has also been very good about employing the elderly or otherwise unemployable (for whom part-time and few or no benefits is still better than being on welfare), and if an employee is left jobless by natural disaster, he is assured of a job at some other Walmart. They've also been leading the way in reducing their trash output (frex, outdated groceries are recycled as animal feed, not as landfill) and trying to generate their own power (some stores in windy areas now sport turbines in the parking lot

    • by Grayhand (2610049)

      ...is it powered by the tears of employees?

      Walgreens not Walmart

    • They never have enough employees working in the pharmacy. Any tears from them are long dried up after telling people their prescriptions are not really ready despite what the automated system told them.

  • I confess that I'm not really familiar with the technology, but this one gives me pause. They are building a Walgreens on a street corner that will use geothermal energy for heat? Can someone with a bit of knowledge share some insight on exactly how they plan to do that in a corner store?
    • by overshoot (39700) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @04:41PM (#43198579)
      The preferred term is "geoexchange" precisely to avoid this confusion.
    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      They will use a geothermal heat pump [wikipedia.org] which is very different than geothermal heating [wikipedia.org] or geothermal electricity [wikipedia.org].

    • by InterGuru (50986)

      There is lot of confusion, since the term "geothermal" is used for two different technologies. The first is digging deep to hot rocks and using water to extract the heat and doing something with it. This has been used for over a century, but has a lot of problems with it.

      The other is going a few feet down to use the ground as a heat source or sink for a heat pump/air conditioner. The latter is what is used now. The problem is that the cost of digging and laying the pipes sometimes cancels out the energy

      • There is lot of confusion, since the term "geothermal" is used for two different technologies. The first is digging deep to hot rocks and using water to extract the heat and doing something with it. This has been used for over a century, but has a lot of problems with it.

        The other is going a few feet down to use the ground as a heat source or sink for a heat pump/air conditioner. The latter is what is used now.

        Um, no. Geothermal heat means extracting heat from the ground, which may be done with *either* a

  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @04:32PM (#43198537)

    that never has anything I want so I end up going to the CVS across the street. Never understood how places like kmart and walgreens stay in business, espectally wallgreens, which is a drug store, with less medical supplies in it than the grocery store.

    • It all depends on where you live. CVS isn't located everywhere, for one thing. The Walgreens near where I used to live was always fairly well-stocked, and there was almost always one of those much closer to people than going to a full grocery store.

      They serve a purpose, even if it's a limited one.

      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        cvs, right aid, whatever .. and yea they are well stocked, just with never anything I need, they are great if I need as seen on tv crap, paper towels, garbage toys, film processing or want to play "theres only 2 people working here, neither are at the cash register", but when I need some breath right strips and a bottle of HBP cold medicine I can never find it in the whole 3 half isles that dont look like a dollar tree exploded.

        • by ndogg (158021)

          Then you haven't been to very many Walgreens. They're pretty varied in size. Generally they're all going to be much smaller than Wal-mart or some other big box store, but many of the ones I've been to have been pretty well stocked, and at least as large as any CVS--a few a bit larger.

          • by Osgeld (1900440)

            yea the ones around here are pretty darn large, but CVS has over 1/3 the store dedicated to pharmacy stuff, wallgreens has the back corner and 3 half isles, in every single one I have been to, from here in the south to the Canadian border

            CVS has their share of crap too, but it consumes almost all of wallgreens. If I want 6$ box of trash bags, a dancing santa and a hair-dini wallgreens, if I want medicine anyfreakingwhere else BUT wallgreens

            wallgreens has 2 isles dedicated to as seen on tv crap, cvs 1 endcap

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      I used to live in the midwest where we rarely saw a CVS but had Walgreens on practically every corner, so I'm very familiar with them. Now I live in Maryland where it's all about CVS (with a random Rite-Aid store here or there), and Walgreens is practically non-existant.

      I was never that fond of Walgreens, especially when they made the HUGE mistake of trying to play hardball with Anthem insurance and refused to accept their policies for prescriptions. I watched their stores look like they were on the set of

      • I never saw CVS until I visited the East Coast long ago, and got the impression it specifically targeted the people without the ability, will or knowledge needed to go somewhere more affordable or better-run. Unfortunately, it bought out the popular West Coast drugstore chain Long's Drugs [wikipedia.org] a few years ago, and transformed it to target the same population.

        Doubly unfortunately, I have to pick my mother's medications up for her there, so I can't just use the grocery store nearby for everything... I haven't de

  • There have been plenty of net-zero retail stores over the last few millenia, and I'm sure that someone has some net-positive stores out there now. The net-negative trend is fairly recent.
  • Those 20 or so cars pictured in TFA use up those 256,000KWh of saved energy per year. Hmmm...

  • by TheStonepedo (885845) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @04:55PM (#43198647) Homepage Journal

    Daylight harvesting is a nasty misnomer - it really just means turning the artificial light down when natural light makes the space acceptably-bright. This is why Walmart stores built in the past two decades have skylights.
    The 2012 IECC requires daylight harvesting or separate switching for daylight zones; complying with new codes is hardly a newsworthy achievement.

    LED lighting for commercial spaces just recently reached a point where lumen output, specifically illuminance at the target work plane, can equal that of fluorescent for the same power input.
    With a cost roughly double that of fluorescent fixtures, LED fixtures' lamp life allows the owner to spend less on maintenance labor, with a payback on the order of 2-10 years. A company as big as Walgreens would be foolish to use anything other than LED unless they expect to go broke before reaching their ROI.

    I like what these guys are doing, but the PR spin is a bit much.

    • by Dan East (318230)

      Why did you fixate on only the lighting part of this story? Of course those two things you chose to comment on are widely used. What type of lighting would you think they'd use?

      What about power generation using not one, or two, but three different forms of renewable energy? These walmarts you speak of. Are they generating enough power to be a zero power use facility too?

      • Power generation is only using 2 forms. The geothermal is only a heat pump for temperature regulation not power generation.

        They are still dependant on coal/gas/nuclear of course. Cloudy day + no wind doesn't mean that the store will be closed.

        • by plover (150551)

          Geothermal is indeed an energy extraction method, and the primary difference with wind generation is that it isn't turned into electricity between harvest and delivery. To say it's not "generation" is disingenuous.

          The only reason they remain "dependent" on fossil fuels is that it's inefficient and expensive to build a giant storage device to keep the excess power they generate. The grid is a 100% efficient ersatz battery, and the only cost is a meter that spins in both directions. "Net zero" does not nece

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheStonepedo (885845)

        I picked lighting because it was the most-obvious waste of words in the article for the sake of green spin.

        The "geothermal" mentioned in TFS (who reads articles, really?) is likely a ground source heat pump rather than a subterranean heat source/sink.
        I like the efficiency numbers of such heat pumps, but am concerned about diminishing returns over time in areas with unbalanced heating and cooling seasons.
        Evanston, IL is close to Chicago - 6450 HDD65, 750 CDD65 .
        Assuming the target temperature is 65F (althoug

        • I like the efficiency numbers of such heat pumps, but am concerned about diminishing returns over time in areas with unbalanced heating and cooling seasons.

          You seem to be blithely unaware of the fact that heat flows naturally, and that deep underground is much warmer than shallow. The 'unbalance over time' is a creation of your own mind.

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        I asked the manager at the Sam's Club about that when they put a hundred or so small wind turbines atop the parking lot lampposts. He said it amounted to around 5% of the store's energy needs -- which may not sound like much but is significant for a store that size.

        And no, there were never any dead birds or bats in the parking lot, so scratch that argument.

    • by Grayhand (2610049)
      It's a corporation so PR spin is a way of life. Doing it without spin would be like asking a crack addict to go cold turkey.
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      "This is why Walmart stores built in the past two decades have skylights."

      And lowest bidder programmed light harvesting systems that dont have enough dwell time so they spend more money on partly cloudy days as the fluorescent lights turn on and off every 60-120 seconds. They have systems that are cool, but the companies they hire to install them dont have a competent programmer to set them up right.

    • by AK Marc (707885)

      LED fixtures' lamp life allows the owner to spend less on maintenance labor, with a payback on the order of 2-10 years. A company as big as Walgreens would be foolish to use anything other than LED unless they expect to go broke before reaching their ROI.

      If you don't have significant cost in changing bulbs, LEDs are generally not cheapest. I've seen a few comparisons with LEDs, and they tend to find the result from the company that commissioned them. Every one I've seen favor LEDs does not take cost of capital into account. "If you have the cash to do either and would put it in a 0% account if you didn't spend it" isn't a realistic assumption for a company build. Florescent is often cheapest because the fixtures are so cheap. The main time LEDs are win

      • As an MEP guy I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
        Will I see you at next year's ASHRAE or LightFair conference?

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          No, I'm a network designer/engineer for an ISP/telco. I just also happen to be a fan of cars, and spend 10-20 hours a week studying automotive engineering about the time LEDs started to see some use in cars. It was always frustrating. Do you remember the CMHSL (center mounted high stop lamp)? The studies that led to that proved it wouldn't work. The "best" solution for the problem would be body colored panels that lit up red. The human factors indicated that people ignored repeated input. If the guy'
    • by ThorGod (456163)

      Meh, why not let them spin it to their heart's content? I mean, seriously, where's the harm?

      It's not like this is an oil company that should be rightly scorned for PR spin covering up gross abuse.

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @05:07PM (#43198689)

    Engineering estimates suggest that the location will produce 256,000 kilowatts per year while using just 200,000.

    Shouldn't that be kilowatt hours? Even if it was kwhrs the numbers are suspect. 200,000/ 365 days per year / 18 hours (12 hours open 12 hours closed using half power) = 30 Kw used in any given hour the store is open. That is equivalent to 300 100 watt incandescent bulbs. I would think a building would require much more than that.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by swalve (1980968)
      Kilowatt hours are a rate, kilowatts are an amount. A 1 kw/h device uses 24 kilowatts per day.
      • Re:Kilowatts? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Kufat (563166) <.ten.tafuk. .ta. .tafuk.> on Sunday March 17, 2013 @05:48PM (#43198865) Homepage

        You've got it backward, I'm afraid. Watts are a measure of power, while watt-hours are a measure of energy (power times time.) A device that uses one kW of power while operating uses 24 kWh of energy per day of operation

      • Wrong. a 1kw/h device uses approximately 24kw/h per day (leap-seconds, daylight savings, etc.)
        A kilowatt is an instantaneous measurement of 1000 watts. A device that uses an average of 1kW over a 1 hour period is said to be "1 kW/hr"

      • Re:Kilowatts? (Score:5, Informative)

        by jklovanc (1603149) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @06:36PM (#43199143)

        A watt is calculated by volts (a measurement of electrical potential) time amps (a measurement of resistance). Notice that there is no time value in that calculation.

        To correct your calculation;
        a 1 kilowatt device used constantly for 24 hours uses 24 kilowatt hours. Notice watts time hours equals watt hours. The kilo is there just to reduce the number of zeros needed. for example a 1 watt device used for one thousand hours uses 1000 watt hours or 1 kilowatt hour.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      LED lighting needs only about 7-8% as much energy as incandescent, plus they are using natural light and you tend to need less with LEDs anyway.

      This is the point greenies have been trying to make. You get better illumination, less waste heat, lower electricity bills and pollute less. It's win-win for everyone except the electric company.

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        Lighting is only one small component. Here are a list of other electricity users;
        heat pumps;
        refrigerators;
        fans,
        cash registers,
        automatic doors,
        security cameras
        By the way, natural light does not work all that well at night.

  • I just hope their local utility discounts the electricity they have to buy to pay for the infrastructure to distribute power to and from the store and the generation capacity needed to cover if the store goes off line for some reason. Most utilities do this but possibly not to the level required.

    If one has a net zero cost for a power bill they better be putting in significantly more power that they are getting out.

  • Just in case they will have the 100kW generator in the back...
  • Walgreens To Build First Self-Powered Retail Store

    Notice there is no mention of electricity storage in the article. On a dark calm night the store will be drawing power from the grid and will not be self powered. Net zero power is not self power. To be self power they would have to be off the grid.

    • by swalve (1980968)
      The grid is the energy storage. Every watt they pump out into the grid is a watt that doesn't need to get generated by a generator somewhere. The energy is "stored" in the fuel that isn't burnt.
      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        The point is that when the building is producing excess electricity it is powering the grid. When it is not producing electricity it is being powered by the grid. Even by your definition, the fuel where the energy is being stored is not part of the building therefore the building is relying on something other than itself for power some of the time. Self power is self contained and does not rely on a power plant hundreds of miles away to provide electricity.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @05:21PM (#43198753) Journal
    In a shocking development, the NBC has learned that Walgreens is installing a "cushioning" carpet which is not just any simple cushiony carpet. It has tubes buried in it, and as the shoppers walk on it they squeeze these tubes and the air gets compressed and it turns a turbine that produces electricity. Mr Rube Goldberg, VP Energy Harvesting Division of Walgreens has conceded that the whole idea was his personal invention.
    • by OzPeter (195038)

      as the shoppers walk on it they squeeze these tubes and the air gets compressed and it turns a turbine that produces electricity.

      Unfortunately truth is stranger than fiction. This is the first linked I picked off google. The technology has been around for a while.

      Power-generating tiles to light Olympic walkway using footsteps [itproportal.com]

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        And a while back I saw a proposal to do likewise with roadways -- get the traffic to generate power. Not really a bad idea if you can figure out how to maintain it in traffic like, say, Los Angeles has (wear and tear would be significant factors).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Out of curiosity, I pondered about the quality of service in terms of grid power at that location. So I did a little bit of Google-fu...

    Evanston does make it to the first page on the list of Chicago suburbs with a lot of power outages. [caspio.com] (And that's being sorted by total outages.) So maybe it says something about how well ComEd is doing in Evanston? (Or at least that particular neighborhood where that Walgreens is located.)

    Considering that many expensive drugs have to be refrigerated, cash registers go down,

  • by gstrickler (920733) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @07:59PM (#43199697)

    I mean, Wind Turbine Syndrome [wikipedia.org] can make their customers ill while they shop, creating even more business. Of course, health insurance rates might rise. /sarcasm

  • The big chunk of retail energy footprint is transport. It would be nice to see something done there too.
  • OK, call me cynical. How much energy will forging the steel, making the glass, and making the cement for the concrete burn? How much energy will transporting all these new materials to site, and transporting away the demolition rubble, burn? For how many additional years could you have run the old store for the environmental cost of building the new one?

    Car analogy, since we like car analogies round here. Your new Prius may be wonderfully energy efficient, but creating it burned so much energy that keeping

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