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Ikea to use geothermal energy at Kansas store

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. — Ikea said it will incorporate geothermal technology at its upcoming 359,000-square-foot Merriam, Kan., store, its second in the United States to use the renewable energy source to heat and cool operations.

The home furnishings giant said related drilling and underground work should be done by winter and that the project - the largest geothermal project in Kansas or Missouri - will be ready by the time the store opens next fall.

Ikea didn't disclose its investment. The Top 100 company uses geothermal system at about 50 of its more than 340 stores, including its Denver-area store in Centennial, Colo., which opened in 2011.

"Using geothermal in our Kansas City-area store reflects our commitment to sustainable building practices whenever feasible," Mike Ward, Ikea U.S. president, said in a release. "Fortunately, this location provides an opportunity to maximize Ikea Merriam's renewable energy potential."

The project features a ground source heat pump system that involves drilling 180 boreholes (six inches in diameter and 600 feet deep) into the earth across part of the retailers 19-acre parcel. Pipes are placed into the holes, forming "an underground network of loops for circulating 36,000 gallons of heat-transferring liquid (a water-based, anti-freeze solution) connected to 64 forced-air heat pumps to cool and heat the store," the retailer said.

It also includes five heat pumps for hot water needed for the store's lavatory and restaurant operations.

Ikea, which has set a goal to be energy independent by 2020, has installed more than 300,000 solar panels across its operations globally, and operates about 137 wind turbines in Europe in addition to the geothermal systems in place.

U.S. sustainable efforts include recycling waste material; using energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, warehouse skylights, and water-conserving restrooms; eliminating plastic bags from the check-out process; and moving from the sale of incandescent light bulbs to selling and using only LED bulbs by 2016.

It also is installing electric vehicle charging stations at 17 U.S. locations, and has solar arrays atop 90% of its U.S. locations. The Merriam store is being evaluated for solar, the company said.

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