IKEA turning vast rooftop into solar farm

Jan 16, 2012 | Energy Saving Buildings

What can you do with a 2.9-acre rooftop? Turn it into a solar-energy farm, says IKEA. By next summer, the rooftop of University City’s giant home-furnishings store will have more than 4,200 solar panels capturing enough energy to power 114 homes.

IKEA plans to make similar installations at its other nine Southern U.S. stores, the company says. IKEA will own and operate each of the energy systems and use the power within its buildings.

IKEA says that this investment “reinforces the company’s long-term commitment to sustainability and confidence in photovoltaic technology.” IKEA already has 12 solar-energy systems in place across the U.S., with 11 more under way. By next summer, three-fourths of all U.S. IKEA stores will have solar-energy systems.

“IKEA believes we can be a good business while doing good business,” said Mike Ward, IKEA U.S. president. “This investment extends our solar presence to the Southern U.S., further reducing our carbon footprint and the intensity of the electrical grid.”

IKEA has taken several other steps to protect the environment and reduce energy consumption. These include eliminating plastic bags from the checkout process, phasing out the sale of incandescent light bulbs and facilitating recycling of customers’ compact fluorescent bulbs. Also, IKEA is installing electric vehicle charging stations at nine stores in the Western U.S.

IKEA also encourages its customers to become stewards of the environment through its “Plant A Tree” program, a partnership with American Forests. IKEA asks customers to donate $1 to plant a tree. Since 1998, IKEA customers have funded the planting of nearly 2 million trees.

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