Adding Cutting-Edge Energy to KC

The Swedish furniture company reveals eco-friendly plans for its KC store.

As KC area residents eagerly await the fall 2014 debut of their very own IKEA in Merriam, Kan., the Swedish furniture maker recently unveiled more big news. This will be no ordinary IKEA, but rather a deluxe-edition IKEA that will incorporate geothermal technology into its heating and cooling system.

Kansas City has yet to see a geothermal system of this magnitude, the company proclaims. In fact, IKEA says this will be the largest geothermal project in the history of both Kansas and Missouri. As it turns out, the nearly 19-acre parcel in Merriam that will house the 359,000-square-foot store is indeed a hotspot for cutting-edge geothermal technology, pun intended.

IKEA U.S. President Mike Ward says, “Using geothermal in our Kansas City-area store reflects our commitment to sustainable building practices whenever feasible. Fortunately, this location provides an opportunity to maximize IKEA Merriam’s renewable energy potential.”

IKEA Merriam’s geothermal system will be a closed-loop ground source heat pump system that requires the drilling of 180 boreholes six inches in diameter and 600 feet deep. Pipes will be laid into these boreholes that will form an underground network of loops for circulating 36,000 gallons of heat-transferring liquid. The pipe system will connect to 64 forced-air heat pumps used to heat and cool the massive store.

Besides Kansas City, Denver is the only other U.S. city to feature one of IKEA’s geothermal-run stores. That branch, IKEA Centennial, opened in 2011. Globally, 50 of IKEA’s 340+ stores use geothermal systems. The company has rooftop solar arrays at 90 percent of its locations and says that the Merriam branch is currently “being evaluated for solar potential.”

IKEA predicts the drilling and underground work for the Merriam store will be completed this winter. The system itself will be operational by the time IKEA opens its doors to customers next fall. It is estimated that roughly 500 jobs are being generated from the construction process alone, and 300 more people will have jobs working at the store.