IKEA plugs in: Three regional facilities go solar

IKEA rooftop in South Philadelphia (IKEA photo)

Earlier today, IKEA officially plugged in solar energy systems atop its stores in South Philadelphia and Conshohocken, as well as at its U.S. service office, also in Conshohocken.

Together, the three rooftop arrays -- made up of 9,198 panels -- are expected to generate 2,654,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, the equivalent of powering 228 homes. And the savings in emissions is the equivalent of removing 359 cars from the road.

The three solar projects are Nos. 27, 28 and 29, for IKEA. The company says that installations are under way at 10 more IKEA locations, bringing the total size of these mini power plants to 38 megawatts -- not even close to the equivalent of a big coal plant, but certainly right up there with other smaller generation facilities. (For a look at all Pennsylvania generation, see the Electric Power Generation Association's tally here.)

For engineer types and others who want the details, here they are:

• Conshohocken, PA (store) – opened in 2003; store size: 325,000 SF on 23 acres SOLAR PROGRAM: 152,800 SF at 1,142.4 kW; 4,760 panels generating 1,366,310 kWh/year Equivalent to reducing 942 tons of CO2, 185 cars’ emissions or powering 117 homes

• Conshohocken, PA (U.S. Office) – opened in 2006; size: 75,000 SF on 7 acres SOLAR PROGRAM: 7,200 SF at 57.1 kW; 238 panels generating 66,980 kWh/year Equivalent to reducing 46 tons of CO2, 9 cars’ emissions or powering 6 homes 

• Philadelphia, PA (store) – opened in 2004; store size: 311,000 SF on 20 acres SOLAR PROGRAM: 126,300 SF at 1,008 kW; 4,200 panels generating 1,220,700 kWh/year Equivalent to reducing 842 tons of CO2, 165 cars’ emissions or powering 105 homes

And here's more from the IKEA press release:

For the development, design and installation of the three locations’ customized solar power systems, IKEA contracted with Gehrlicher Solar America Corp., part of Gehrlicher AG, one of the world's ten largest independent PV project developers and system integrators.

“This solar installation is another example of how we build on our ongoing sustainability commitment,” said Conshohocken store manager Kevin Bohon. Added Lisa Christensen, store manager in South Philadelphia, “A solar energy system atop the store reduces our carbon footprint and improves what we do today for a better tomorrow.”

IKEA, drawing from its Swedish heritage and respect of nature, believes it can be a good business while doing good business and aims for its operations to minimize impacts on the environment. Globally, IKEA evaluates all locations regularly for energy conservation opportunities, integrates innovative materials into product design, works with Global Forest Watch 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 construction of buildings in terms of 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 and facilitating recycling of customers’ compact fluorescent bulbs. IKEA also has installed electric vehicle charging stations at nine stores in the Western U.S.