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IKEA Powers Up Second Largest Commercial Solar Panel Roof

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With local officials and community leaders, as well as PG&E and REC Solar representatives on-hand, IKEA a leading home furnishings retailer – flipped the switch on a newly constructed solar energy system at its southwestern US distribution center in Tejon, California.  The 370,000-square-foot solar array consists of a 1.8 MW system designed and installed by California-based REC Solar, and built with 7,980 REC Group panels.  The system will produce 2.88 million kWh of electric power annually, the equivalent of reducing 1,986 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), eliminating the emissions of 389 cars, or powering 241 homes yearly (calculating clean energy equivalents at www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html).  This project contributes to the local utility’s renewable portfolio goals and lowers the carbon intensity of the electrical grid.

IKEA contracted with California-based REC Solar, one of the largest U.S. solar electric providers with more than 6,000 systems built nationwide including 16MW in the commercial retail sector in the past two years.  This installation represents the second-largest, single-roof commercial system in the state, and the sixth largest in the nation.  REC Solar specializes in grid-tied solar electric design and installation, and offers the latest technology, state of the art equipment and financing opportunities for all commercial and residential customers.

“Having solar panels on the roof of this distribution center demonstrates that the company’s sustainable commitment extends beyond our stores into all facets of the retail operations,” said Martin Grieder, Distribution Operations Manager for Western North America.  “This solar photovoltaic system will reduce significantly the carbon footprint and electricity costs of this facility and will continue the global and U.S. initiative of IKEA to incorporate sustainable practices wherever feasible.  We appreciate the support of REC Solar, Kern County and PG&E, our partners in this project.”

In the United States, IKEA already has solar energy systems operational in four stores with systems currently being installed at nine other locations, including a Denver-area store also opening this year in Centennial, CO with a geothermal system.  The 1.8 million-square-foot Tejon Distribution Center opened in 2000 on 60 acres along Interstate-5 in Kern County just north of the ‘grapevine’ route through California’s Tehachapi mountain range.

IKEA, drawing from its Swedish heritage and respect of nature, believes it can be a good business while doing good business and strives for its operations to minimize impacts on the environment.  Globally, IKEA evaluates all locations regularly for energy conservation opportunities, integrates innovative materials into product design, works with Global Forest Watch to maintain sustainable resources, and flat-packs goods for efficient distribution.  Specific U.S. sustainable efforts include:  recycling waste material (paper, wood, plastic, etc.); incorporating environmental measures into the construction of buildings in terms of energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, skylights in warehouse areas, and water conserving restrooms; and operationally, phasing out the sale of incandescent light bulbs and facilitating recycling of customers’ compact fluorescent bulbs.

Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA, the world’s leading home furnishings company, has offered home furnishings of good design and quality at low prices so the majority of people can afford them.  There are currently more than 300 IKEA stores in 38 countries, including 37 in the U.S., supported by five distribution centers.  TIME Magazine listed IKEA as one of the top eight most global eco-conscious companies (2009).  IKEA incorporates sustainable efforts into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment.  For more information, go to IKEA-USA.com.

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