IKEA, a leading home furnishings retailer, has announced solar energy plans for its Kansas City-area store opening Fall 2014 in Merriam, Kan. Pending permits, rooftop panel installation will begin next month, with completion before the store’s opening, making the project the largest rooftop solar array in the State of Kansas.

The 92,000-square-foot solar array will consist of a 869.25-kW system, built with 2,850 panels, and will produce approximately 1,348,000 kWh of electricity annually for the store, the equivalent to reducing 930 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – equal to the emissions of 196 cars or providing electricity for 128 homes yearly (calculating clean energy equivalents at www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html). For the development, design and installation of IKEA Merriam’s customized solar power system, IKEA contracted with Chicago-based SoCore Energy, one of the largest commercial solar developers in the Midwest, with more than 100 commercial-scale U.S. installations.

Under construction on 19 acres along the eastern side of Interstate-35 and Johnson Drive, the 359,000 square-foot future IKEA Merriam and 1,200 parking spaces will be built in the city of Merriam, eight miles southwest of Kansas City, Mo. IKEA Merriam will be 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 will significantly reduce the energy IKEA Merriam will draw from the power grid.

“We are excited about furthering our sustainability commitment with solar panels on the future Merriam store,” said Rob Parsons, IKEA Merriam store manager. “As is the case with geothermal, solar energy will reduce greatly the new store’s energy needs and carbon footprint as well as contribute to our vision of creating a better everyday life for the many.”

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, with a total generation goal of 40MW. 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, reinforcing its confidence and investment in solar photovoltaic technology. Consistent with the goal of being energy independent by 2020, IKEA has installed more than 550,000 solar panels on buildings across the world and owns approximately 157 wind turbines in Europe and Canada, with 49 more being built in the U.S.

IKEA, drawing from its Swedish heritage and respect of nature, believes it can be a good business while doing good business and aims to minimize impacts on the environment. 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 environmental measures into the actual buildings with energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, skylights in warehouse areas, and water-conserving restrooms; and operationally, eliminating plastic bags from the check-out process, phasing-out the sale of incandescent light bulbs, facilitating recycling of customers’ compact fluorescent bulbs, and by 2016 selling only L.E.D. bulbs. IKEA also has installed electric vehicle charging stations at 13 stores, with roll-out planned for more locations.