In partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, IKEA currently has a geothermal system under construction for its store in Centennial, Colorado, reports Sustainable Business. The Swedish home furnishings retailer says it will be the first IKEA store in the United States to be built with geothermal heating and cooling. The store is expected to open in the fall of 2011.
Geothermal heat pumps use about 25 percent to 50 percent less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption and related emissions by up to 72 percent compared to traditional electric resistance heating and standard air-conditioning equipment, according to the article.
In addition, geothermal cooling and heating also improves humidity control by maintaining about 50 percent relative indoor humidity, which makes them well suited for humid areas.
Erin Anderson, a senior geothermal analyst at NREL, told Sustainable Business that the IKEA/NREL project could be the benchmark for a credible standard for geothermal installation in large-scale retail stores nationwide, and NREL’s data base will be open to researchers to use for their models.
She also said that NREL’s monitoring and data will help IKEA make decisions about adding different mixtures to the liquid, tempering the flow, as well as adding more pumps or an additional cooling system.
Douglas Wolfe, IKEA project construction manager for the store said in the article that the company launched an internal energy-efficiency initiative several years ago that included the evaluation of geothermal programs for the construction of new stores, and this is “the first project where the timing, the economics and the geotechnical aspects all make sense.”
According to a report from the Geothermal Energy Association released in January, the U.S. geothermal energy industry has a total installed capacity of 3,152.72 megawatts (MW) in states including Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, and is considered the largest renewable energy power source in California.