How Many Retailers Have So Far Committed to Be Fossil Fuel Free?

IKEA in Kansas City is the latest store to be built powered by solar energy
IKEA in Kansas City is the latest store to be built powered by solar energy

Fossil Fuel Free – ( Solar Thermal Magazine)

So far, not many retail stores have publicly stated their intentions to switch to 100% renewable energy. In fact Swedish giant IKEA, is possible the first and to their further credit, they have been following up on their commitment one store at a time.

Today the company announced that it has officially plugged-in Kansas’ largest rooftop solar array, atop the recently opened IKEA Merriam. The 92,000-square-foot solar array consists of a 730.17-kW DC system, comprised of 2,394 panels, and will produce approximately 986,800 kWh of electricity annually for the store, the equivalent of reducing 680 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – equal to the emissions of 143 cars or providing electricity for 94 homes yearly.

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 wholly owned subsidiary of Fortune 500 company Edison International. With hundreds of designed and installed solar projects, SoCore is one of the largest commercial solar developers in the U.S.

“Plugging-in this solar array is an exciting milestone to follow-up on our successful opening last fall,” said Rob Parsons, IKEA Merriam store manager.

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.

This installation will represent the 41st solar project for IKEA in the U.S, contributing to the IKEA solar presence atop nearly 90% of its U.S. locations, and a total generation goal of 40 MW. IKEA owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings – as opposed to a solar lease or PPA (power purchase agreement) – and globally has allocated $1.8 billion to invest in renewable energy through 2015.

Energy independent by 2020

This investment reinforces the long-term commitment IKEA has to sustainability and confidence in photovoltaic (PV) technology. Consistent with the company’s goal of being energy independent by 2020, IKEA has installed more than 700,000 solar panels on buildings across the world and owns approximately 157 wind turbines in Europe and Canada, with 104 others being built in the U.S.

Drawing from its Swedish heritage and respect of nature, IKEA strives to minimize its operations’ carbon emissions because reducing its environmental impact makes good business sense. Globally, IKEA evaluates locations regularly for conservation opportunities, integrates innovative materials into product design, works to maintain sustainable resources, and flat-packs goods for efficient distribution. Specific U.S. sustainable efforts include: recycling waste material; incorporating energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, skylights in warehouse areas, and water-conserving restrooms. Operationally, IKEA eliminated plastic bags from the check-out process, phased-out the sale of incandescent bulbs, facilitates recycling of customers’ compact fluorescent bulbs, and by 2016 will sell only L.E.D. IKEA also has installed EV charging stations at 13 stores, with plans for more locations.

The 359,000 square-foot IKEA Merriam, with 1,200 parking spaces, opened September 10, 2014 on 19 acres along the eastern side of Interstate-35 and Johnson Drive, in the city of Merriam, eight miles southwest of Kansas City, Missouri. IKEA Merriam represents the second U.S. store for IKEA with a geothermal component to its heating and cooling system. (Denver-area IKEA Centennial opened with geothermal in 2011.) Incorporating geothermal and solar significantly reduces the energy IKEA Merriam will draw from the power grid.

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