Originally published on Planetsave.com.
Reinforcing its long-term commitment to sustainability and confidence in solar technology, IKEA officially plugged-in the largest rooftop solar array in Kansas. The huge solar array will support the recently opened 359,000 square-foot IKEA Merriam and its 1,200 parking spaces soaking up the rays on 19 acres along the eastern side of I-35 eight miles southwest of Kansas City, Missouri.
The 92,000-square-foot solar array will produce approximately 986,800 kWh of electricity annually, consists of 2,394 solar panels, and includes a 730.17-kW DC system. Using the EPA CleanEnergy Calculator, this is equal to offsetting 680 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually. Put another way, it equals offsetting CO2 emissions of 143 cars a year, or annually providing electricity for 94 homes yearly.
IKEA is Plugged Into CleanTech
Drawing from its Swedish heritage and respect for nature, IKEA has set a company-wide goal of being energy independent by 2020. So far, IKEA has installed more than 700,000 solar panels on buildings across the world, owns around 157 wind turbines in Europe and Canada, and 104 more wind turbines are being built in the US. For 2015 alone, IKEA has allocated $1.8 billion for investing globally in cleantech and renewable energy sources.
With solar rooftop systems installed on nearly 90% of all its US locations, the Merriam installation is IKEA’s 41st solar project in the US as the company works to attain a total solar energy generation goal of 40 MW. As opposed to utilizing a solar lease or PPA power purchase agreement (PPA), IKEA owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems on its buildings.
Speaking in a recent announcement about the latest IKEA solar plug-in, IKEA Merriam Store Manager Rob Parsons said, “Plugging-in this solar array is an exciting milestone to follow-up on our successful opening last fall.” Parsons continued, “IKEA strives to create a sustainable life for communities where we operate, so we are proud IKEA Merriam now has solar power for our electricity besides geothermal technology to heat and cool the building.”
Adding a Geothermal Component to Sustainability
According to Kansas City Public Television (KCPT), the IKEA Merriam store has “the largest geothermal project in three states: Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.” Joseph Roth, IKEA USA Director of Public Affairs explained that it is “just smart business to maximize the resources as much as possible.”
“In cold winters, the ground temperature will be warmer than the outside temperature, so it’ll keep the building warmer,” Roth said. “When it’s hot outside, the ground temperature is typically cooler than the outside temperature, so that helps keep the building colder.”
Merriam is IKEA’s second US store, following Denver-area IKEA Centennial, with a geothermal component to its heating and cooling system. Incorporating geothermal and solar power generation significantly reduces the energy IKEA Merriam will draw from the power grid.
For the development, design, and installation of the Kansas City-area store’s customized solar power system, IKEA contracted with Chicago-based SoCore Energy. A large commercial solar developer with hundreds of designed and installed solar projects in the US, SoCore is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fortune 500 company Edison International.
Environmental Stewardship Makes Good Business Sense
Founded in Sweden in 1943, IKEA has been offering its now world-famous and beloved home furnishings of aesthetic design and function at low prices so the majority of people can afford them. Globally, IKEA strives to minimize carbon emissions from its operations, and evaluates all of its locations regularly for conservation opportunities. Integrating innovative materials into its signature product design, IKEA environmental stewardship policies work to maintain sustainable resources. Following up all the way to our homes, the company flat-packs our beloved purchases for the most efficient distribution.
IKEA has also installed EV charging stations at 13 stores in the United States, and has plans in the works for more locations. Additional US-specific sustainability efforts at IKEA stores include:
- Recycling waste material.
- Incorporating energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems.
- Recycled construction materials.
- Skylights in warehouse areas.
- Water-conserving restrooms.
- Plastic bags eliminated from the check-out process.
- Phased-out the sale of incandescent bulbs.
- Facilitates recycling of customers’ compact fluorescent bulbs.
- From 2016, IKEA will sell only L.E.D. bulbs.
With over 360 stores in 47 countries, including 40 in the US, IKEA incorporates sustainability into day-to-day business, consistently supporting initiatives that benefit the environment and the futures of our children. The world’s leading home furnishings retailer has clearly proven that IKEA’s environmental stewardship initiatives make very good business sense.