Walgreens opens eco-friendly drug store


DEERFIELD, Ill. The “green” in the Walgreens name is taking on new meaning.

Walgreens Wednesday unveiled what it calls the nation’s first drug store to meet top environmental requirements for efficiency and design. The new store, in the San Diego suburb of Mira Mesa, Calif., is designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, a certification granted by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Walgreens officials and guests marked the store's grand opening with a tree planting ceremony and other eco-oriented activities, along with product giveaways for the local community. The company also is donating $5,000 to the San Diego chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit environmental group whose goal is to protect the world’s oceans, waves and beaches through education, conservation and research.

“We are proud to showcase our commitment to the environment here in the San Diego area, a region recognized for its sustainability efforts,” said Walgreens operations VP Matt Sesto. “Walgreens is making great progress on our environmental initiatives in stores chainwide. We’re cutting our electricity and water usage, recycling tons of cardboard and shrink wrap each year and upgrading equipment for maximum efficiency.”

The Mira Mesa store — Walgreens’ first in that community and its 19th unit in San Diego County —  offers reserved parking for hybrid vehicles and bike racks, and is located close to public transportation. Seventy-five percent of the store’s lighting comes from sunlight through skylights and solar tubes. Coolers, freezers and exterior signs all use LED lights, reducing energy use by 50% over fluorescent lighting.

The store will save enough electricity to power 19.3 homes per year, according to Walgreens. In addition, the use of native and adaptive plant species will eliminate water usage for landscaping, and 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills and recycled.

“Signage posted inside the store will inform customers about the features that make this location unique,” Sesto said. “We want people to feel good about shopping here, and maybe even be inspired to live greener lives.”

The Mira Mesa Walgreens is registered under the LEED Green Building Rating System. It will be reviewed by the USGBC and given a specific level of certification in four to six months.

Walgreens plans to open its next LEED-registered store in Chicago this fall, with two more locations to follow by the end of the year. The company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint also include the use of solar panel systems in 63 of its locations in California, Connecticut, New Jersey and Oregon.

More information on Walgreens’ environmental efforts can be found at www.walgreens.com/responsibility.

The chain opened its first store in Southern California more than 15 years ago. Another nine Walgreens stores are planned to open in the area by the end of 2011.

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