Opening in the fall of 2011, the first Colorado based IKEA store, located in the southern suburb of Centennial, will employ geothermal heat pumps to provide heating and cooling to its newest location. The first of its kind for the big box retailer in the United States, the system will tap into the constant temperature in the earth’s crust to reduce the energy needed to heat or cool the large (415,000 square foot) retail space. Commercial buildings consume roughly 18% of electricity generated in this country. Companies that can reduce the need for baseload energy may reap large savings. Big box retailers have been targeted by other technologies, including New Millennium Wind Energy, which is designing a rooftop turbine specifically for these companies.
IKEA’s commitment to clean technology has manifested itself in their investment fund, IKEA GreenTech, which aims to “bring good, affordable environmental products and technology to the many people by investing in innovative companies with great potential to meet modern needs.” The fund is looking for companies to add to its database of suppliers. Interested companies can submit their information here.
According to Businesswire.com, “IKEA has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to study geothermal efficiency in large-scale buildings. NREL’s monitoring and data will help IKEA make decisions about adding different mixtures to the liquid, tempering the flow, adding more pumps or an additional cooling system.”
NREL reports that
Geothermal heat pumps use 25 percent to 50 percent less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems, a potential saving of several billion dollars a year if projections for geothermal growth prove true. The Environmental Protection Agency says geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption—and corresponding emissions—up to 72 percent compared to traditional electric resistance heating and standard air-conditioning equipment. Geothermal cooling and heating also improves humidity control by maintaining about 50 percent relative indoor humidity, making GHPs very effective in humid areas.
In order to help spur the use of geothermal technology, “The IKEA/NREL project could be the benchmark for a credible standard for geothermal installation in large-scale retail stores nationwide. NREL’s data base will be open to researchers around the world to use for their models.”
Time magazine, who also ran an article on the IKEA store, discussed geothermal heat pumps’ viability in people’s homes. “Shoppers looking to try this technology at home will find that the front-end costs for geothermal systems are high – about $7,500 for a typical residence – but once built, they are relatively cheap to run. Systems can be installed in a few days beneath the law or driveway or under a new or existing house.”