Behind a familiar blue box, David Johansson drills for geothermal gold
IKEA, that retailing paradox, has become more enamored of the big box store concept than ever - recently the company announced that it would eschew further development of web-based online sales in favor of more brick and mortar(!!!). While that's a somewhat untreehugger, last-century attitude, IKEA in Sweden is also going beyond the slightly shopworn 'we buy green energy' declarations of some retailers by generating a large portion of its own heating and cooling needs on site with geothermal heat pump systems.
At a new IKEA store in Karlstad, 101 separate holes drilled 120 meters (390 feet) into the ground tap 50 - 60 degree water that then provides 85 percent to the location's heating needs and 75 percent of air conditioning requirements (the actual pumping still uses electricity). The IKEA site is now one of Sweden's largest geothermal installations, and new stores at Uppsala, Helsingborg and Malmö are in line to get similar systems. Swedish IKEA stores get 91 percent of their energy/electricity needs from renewable sources (mainly hydro and wind), while globally the average is around 40 percent. Now if they could only figure out a way to get those cheap and (mostly) durable tables, chairs and kitchen doohickeys home to customers via sustainable transport! ::NyTeknik (Swedish only)