More and more retail chains are embracing renewable energy in a bid to cut costs and reduce their carbon footprint. Examples include Wal-Mart installing close to 5300 solar panels at its Apple Valley distribution center in California and Green Depot making their stores LEED-certified. Now IKEA has joined the renewable retail ranks by announcing that a store near Centennial in Denver will be powered by geothermal energy. Thanks to a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Denver IKEA store will be the first IKEA store in the United States to be built with geothermal heating and cooling, saving both energy and money.
Douglas Wolfe, IKEA project construction manager for the store, said that he expected the site to be open in the fall of 2011. The project will see 130 holes dug 500 feet deep into the ground, where the temperature is 55 degrees all year round. The holes will be situated under the store’s parking garage, which will be below the store. When operational, the geothermal pumps will use 25 percent to 50 percent less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems and could potentially save thousands of dollars each year.
Although geothermal power has not seen the publicity that wind and solar energy receives, the tech has seen something of a resurgence in recent months with the Environmental Protection Agency stating that geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption (and corresponding emissions) by up to 72 percent compared to traditional electric resistance heating and standard air-conditioning equipment.