You wouldn’t know just by looking at it, but far beneath the massive IKEA store in Merriam, an advanced system is at work keeping the store environmentally friendly. A few years ago, IKEA installed an underground geothermal system. Crews drilled 180 six-inch-wide boreholes 600 feet below ground. The holes help a water-based anti-freeze solution connect heat- transferring liquids to dozens of forced-air heat pumps to both heat and cool the store.
The company plans to be energy independent by 2020 and has begun implementing green energy practices at its locations across the world. In addition to the geothermal system, they’ve installed 2,394 solar panels that supply 20-40 percent of the store’s required operating power. And going green means IKEA is seeing green. “By using renewable energy, that actually reduced our operating costs globally,” says Latisha Bracy, IKEA Public Affairs. “As we are continually reducing our costs, we also reduce the prices of our products. On a global level, savings are passed along to the customers. These are what allow us to open stores.”
The Kansas City-area store opened in 2014, and keeping it energy efficient was a high priority. Because wind turbines require a lot of land, the company began eyeing geothermal technology for its locations (though they still pull in energy from off-site wind farms). “Because the stores are large, when possible and feasible, we’ve done geothermal. We can maximize the acreage of the land we’re purchasing,” says Bracy. “Renewable energy has proven to be very successful. We are reducing our operating costs from location to location by incorporating these sustainable, renewable energies. So if you can do the right thing and save money, that’s a no-brainer.”