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San Diego, CA- Walgreens celebrated the opening of the nations first green drugstore yesterday not with a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony but with the planting of a native tree. “We felt that planting a tree was much more ideal then cutting a ribbon then throwing it away” said Jamie J. Meyers, The LEED AP Project architect who was there for the celebrations.

Walgreens, the nations largest pharmacy chain is once again changing the landscape for your American consumer, now for your greener. A store involved was made from the ground-up round the dual mission of efficiency and sustainability. Not just is it the initial pharmacy inside the U.S. to fulfill the USGBCs stringent LEED design standards but the 24-hour store also sells numerous eco-friendly products.

By exceeding LEED requirements and integrating eco-friendly product lines within their inventory they have got taken steps that cannot simply be related to the normal corporate “greenwashing” With this project and future plans for most more like it, what time does Walgreens Pharmacy open makes a serious commitment to sustainability. Here are just a few of the points they have that are part of this store on the architectural side;

-Take for example the landscaping- They used all native plants that will require no watering whatsoever when they have adjusted to transplanting. Within San Diego that’s a pretty problem while we are in the midst of a level two drought emergency. -They took great pains to minimize lighting energy waste by utilizing 75% natural sunlight during daytime hours. This was achieved with setting up solar tubes and skylights that shine down from the ceiling. This coupled with LEDs within their signs and coolers reduces lighting related energy use by 50%

These are mitigating storm water pollution from your surrounding buildings by collecting and filtering water as it flows onto their lot. Water use is estimated at 50% below LEED standard levels. 75% of materials were architectural salvage through the previous structure that existed on the lot. A white roof was included to minimize cooling related energy use or even mitigate the urban heat island effect.

There are many other green details as well, including hybrid car parking spaces, a bike rack, and a site chosen to some extent for it’s close proximity to public transport. While other companies including Wal-Mart and Target make token gestures for the green movement Walgreens really seems to have it. While there is still room for more improvement, the significant steps they may have come to “go green” far surpass the typical dog and pony demonstrate that passes for environmentalism these days in many companies.

At some time the question was seriously posed- “How could we make ourselves more effective and sustainable?” And someone spent the time to discover some awnsers. Yet here we discover the question that most modern companies will be confronted with as energy prices soar as well as the public gets to be more aware of their very own effect on the planet. Whether it’s the item they produce, the service they supply, or even the goods that they sell companies large and small cannot escape the alterations that are occurring in our environment. People who don’t react to these changes will end up like Walgreens competitors like Eckerd; just struggling to take care of the rest.

A medical history of Steady Progress – “Walgreens is making great progress on our environmental initiatives in stores chain-wide. Were cutting our electricity and water usage, recycling tons of cardboard and shrink rgxtwu every year and upgrading equipment for maximum efficiency” Said Walgreens Market Vice President Matt Sesto

Walgreens has never been a fashionable/flashy company. Quite the exact opposite, they may be a household run All-American company using a long history of steady progress. In many cases they have been among the initial to implement innovative strategies such as the change to bar-code scanning technology, and the expansion into film development in the 1970’s. They also were at the forefront of adapting a far more convenient, customer friendly format in a time when drugstores were rather limited in scope. Through all these changes nonetheless they have always kept true for their identity as, “Americas corner drugstore”.

Then when a company like Walgreens outlines a broad ranging eco friendly strategy it really means something with regards to their future intentions. As mentioned by Jim Collins (Author of ‘Built to Last’ and ‘Good to Great’) in an article titled Best Beats First; “they (Walgreens) may be slow- using a crawl, walk, run, trajectory, however when they run, they will run right over companies that believe being first is actually all that matters.” When Walgreens tells me that they plan to build much more new green locations, as well as do additional eco-friendly modifications for their 6,857 existing locations- In my opinion them. This store alone is saving enough energy to power 19 homes a year- imagine just what the combined effect will be!