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By Kiko Aebi                                            
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Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2011  
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Photo of solar panels on IKEA's roof
                               Photo courtesy of Kiko Aebi
A photo of the new solar panels that were installed
on the roof of IKEA East Palo Alto

IKEA in East Palo Alto officially joined the green movement when it installed its 38,000-square-foot solar energy system on June 23. The Swedish home furnishings retailer's custom-built solar energy system was built with 1,344 panels and is capable of generating 302 Killowatts (kW) of electricity.

IKEA's solar program will produce approximately 427,900 kWh of clean electricity annually. This will reduce the store's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 326 tons, the equivalent of the yearly emissions of 58 cars or 35 homes (calculating clean energy equivalents at www.e p a.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator. html).

IKEA East Palo Alto'a solar energy initiative will contribute to the local utility's renewable portfolio goals and will lower the carbon intensity of the electrical grid.

Gloria Solar, the U.S based photovoltaic business, was contracted for the development, design, and installation of the IKEA store's solar power system.

IKEA East Palo Alto is the seventh store in the United States to switch exclusively to solar energy. The six other IKEA stores are located in: Brooklyn, NY, Burbank, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, Tejon, CA, and Tempe, AZ, with both a solar energy system and a geothermal system operational at the Denver-area store opening this July in Centennial, CO. IKEA has plans to install solar energy systems in five other IKEA locations in California, as well as at eight locations in the Eastern United States.

The motivation for the change to solar energy originated from IKEA's global mission to respect nature and to minimize its impact on the environment. In maintaining its image as 'The Life Improvement Store,' IKEA evaluates all store locations regularly for energy saving opportunities and attempts to integrate sustainable practices in the production and distribution of its goods. IKEA has mounted a joint effort with Global Forest Watch to help maintain sustainable resources. The store also works to educate consumers of sustainable practices through the example that it sets at all its 320 stores, including the 37 in the U.S.

"Our mission is to create a better everyday life for the many and, at IKEA East Palo Alto, we are happy to do so with this effort," said Jill Matherson, store manager. "A solar energy system will help reduce the store's carbon footprint and represents another investment toward our future in this community."

To contact the author of this article, Kiko Aebi, send an email to epatoday@epatoday.org.


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