Walgreens and IKEA Ramp Up Rooftop Solar, a Green Museum Goes 'Double Platinum' & More

Walgreens and IKEA Ramp Up Rooftop Solar, a Green Museum Goes 'Double Platinum' & More

As Greenbuild approaches, the companies and organizations with a stake in the green building movement are going into overdrive.

They're stepping up efforts in addition to preparing for the industry's largest annual international conference, which is in Toronto this year. GreenBiz.com will provide coverage from the conference as well as news highlights, like this summary of recent green building developments.

Walgreens' 100th Solar Power System

Walgreens has installed its 100th rooftop solar energy system, making good on a 5-year-old pledge to have solar power at 100 stores and distribution centers by the close of 2011. The company says it may exceed that goal: If installation plans continue apace, there could be as many as 130 solar arrays within the chain by year's end,

GreenBiz first wrote about Walgreens' solar initiative in 2006. Since then, the company has steadily increased its work to ease environmental impacts. Other efforts include energy efficiency measures, recycling and packaging reduction initiatives and, more recently, a project to install charging stations for electric vehicles at 800 stores by the end of this year.

Walgreens celebrated the completion of its 100th solar power project last week. The installation is on a store in Mason, Ohio, and the state is home to 53 Walgreens solar power sites.

Rooftop solar at the IKEA in West Covina, Calif. Photo courtesy of IKEA.IKEA Plugs In Its 12th Solar Rooftop

IKEA officially flipped the switch today on its 12th solar power project in the U.S. -- a 451-kilowatt array made from 2,002 panels and spanning 57,000 square feet at a store in West Covina, Calif.

The system is expected to produce 651,800 kWh of electricity annually. That's roughly equivalent to enough power for 55 homes for a year and has the effect of avoiding 495 tons of carbon dioxide over the same period.

The West Covina installation is the ninth U.S. solar project IKEA has completed in 2011. Plans for eight others are underway in the country. IKEA also has installed four solar water heating systems at stores in the U.S. Articles on IKEA's goals for renewable energy in California, for 2011 and in the United Kingdom are here, here and here.

Schneider Electric Brings a Micro Smart Grid to the Solar Decathlon

The Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., which we featured in an article last week, not only showcases student efforts to build the most cost-effective and energy-efficient solar homes, it's also intended to illustrate how a smart, connected community works.

Schneider Electric
teamed with utility company Pepco and engineering firm M.C. Dean to provide the micro-grid for the temporary solar village. The village's "energy balance" is detailed on the website for the competition. The information includes how much power has been generated, how much if any excess gets fed to the utility and the community's carbon impact. The biennial decathlon, which is conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy, concludes Monday.

A Clean Energy Showcase

The city of San Jose, Calif., also is doing its bit to highlight the benefits of renewable energy and the companies that can help businesses and homeowners tap into it.

The San Jose Green Vision Clean Energy Showcase offers free weekday tours for professional and school groups on weekdays and is open to the general public on Saturdays until the weekend before Thanksgiving. Solar homeowners share their experiences and lessons learned with visitors this weekend. The city's clean energy website at energy.sanjoseca.gov, offers clean energy information and other resources for those who can't make the trip to the town.

The World's First 'Double Platinum' Green Museum

The California Academy of Sciences has received its second LEED certification at the highest level possible from the U.S. Green Building Council. Designed by Renzo Piano, the academy landed its first platinum LEED rating as a newly constructed building in October 2008, just a month after it opened. (There's a picture of it at the top of the page.)

The second award was celebrated this week as the facility marked its third anniversary. More than 5 million people have visited the academy, which has a unique curving green roof and houses an aquarium, a planetarium, a mini-rainforest and a research center. It's also home to a wealth of green building elements and innovations. The academy details the features here and here is the GreenBiz article on the facility's opening.

Image courtesy of the California Academy of Sciences.