Walgreens and SolarCity will join forces to install solar systems at 22 drugstores across Colorado, the equivalent of planting more than 25,000 trees over the next two decades. Today marked the completion of the first Colorado drugstore: the Aurora Walgreens on E. Smokey Hill Road and Aurora Parkway. The achievement was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the first of 14 Colorado cities in which the solar installations will take place.
“I’m happy to see Walgreens and SolarCity team up to help Colorado meet its renewable energy standard," U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman said at the April 1 ceremony. Once completed, the solar systems will generate almost 1 MW of power, and will reduce more than 47.5 million pounds of CO2 emissions over the next 20 years.
The largest drugstore chain in the nation, Walgreens prides itself on innovation and has done so for the last 100-plus years, said Howard Atlas, vice president of health and wellness integration for Walgreens. “This innovation fits perfectly with what we’re doing as an organization,” Atlas said.
In 2007, Walgreens began installing solar panels at its retail stores throughout the nation. The drugstore chain has committed to reducing its energy use by 20% by the year 2020, bringing it closer to achieving the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Challenge. This “challenge” comes from President Obama, who is asking CEOs and local governments to commit to an energy savings pledge, and share their progress with others.
A promoter of health and wellness, Walgreens has a strong commitment to the local community, said the drugstore chain’s sustainability director Menno Enters. “We have the responsibility to lead and thought being a leader in environmental wellness is just as important,” Enters said.
This environmental wellness is becoming more apparent throughout Colorado, as Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan pointed out. Driving to the Aurora Walgreens, he was reminded of the E-470 Solar Project, where panels along a 17-mile stretch generate electricity to power streetlights, message signs, toll plazas and maintenance facilities. “[Solar energy] is really in our ethic now,” Hogan said.
Besides its positive environmental impact, the partnership between SolarCity and Walgreens has had a positive economic outcome as well. The SolarCity offices and Denver and Parker now employ more than 180 workers.
“It’s good for the community, it’s good for individuals and it’s something I’m proud to be a part of,” Hogan said.