Yellow and blue make green: Ikea plans geothermal project for KC-area store

Emily Letterman, Features Editor

As if I didn’t love Swedish mega-retailer Ikea enough already, when the press release, “Ikea Merriam plans state’s largest geothermal project,” showed up in my inbox this week – my environmentally-friendly heart melted a little bit more.

No pun intended.

Already under constriction in Merriam, Kan., Ikea announced plans to incorporate geothermal technology into the heating and cooling system of the future Kansas City-area store. Only the second U.S. store in the international chain to house the new technology — the other in Denver, Colo. — the heating and cooling system will be the largest of it’s kind in both Kansas and Missouri.

Related drilling and underground work should be complete by winter, with the system ultimately operational when Ikea Merriam opens in fall 2014, according to the news release.

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

The closed-loop ground source heat pump system involves drilling 180 boreholes — six inches in diameter and 600 feet deep — into the earth across part of the 19-acre Ikea parcel, according to the release. Pipes placed into these boreholes will form an underground network of loops for circulating 36,000 gallons of heat-transferring liquid connected to 64 forced-air heat pumps to cool and heat the store. This system also includes five hot-water heat pumps to provide potable hot water needed for the store’s lavatory and restaurant operations.

Drawing on its Swedish heritage and respect of nature, Ikea believes it can be a good business while doing good business and aims to minimize impacts on the environment.

Consistent with the company’s goal of being energy independent by 2020, Ikea globally has installed more than 300,000 solar panels, owns and/or operates approximately 137 wind turbines in Europe and already has geothermal systems at approximately 50 locations worldwide, according to the release.

During a recent trip to Kansas City for the Missouri Press Association Convention, I got my first look at the future 359,000 square-foot store. Nestled along the eastern side of Interstate 35 and Johnson Drive, eight miles southwest of Kansas City, the 18.4 acre hole in the ground doesn’t look like much yet.

I can only dream of the goodness to come.

I can only dream of the goodness to come.

In fact, had I not been an inquisitive reporter, the construction site could have been mistaken for any of the other dozen projects underway in KC. Sans, one very small, dirty, little sign laying in the grass by the entrance.

It may be small, but it’s mighty.

It may be small, but it’s mighty.

My heart filled with joy as soon as I spotted the signature Swedish blue and yellow. It’s not all just a dream — it’s going to be a shop-a-holic, armature home decorators dream come true.




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