Ikea goes solar in Bolingbrook
By Janet Lundquist email@example.com July 25, 2012 5:42PM
Updated: August 27, 2012 11:11AM
BOLINGBROOK — Known for its flat-pack boxes and recycled construction material, as well as its lingonberries and meatballs, Ikea is taking its environmentally friendly efforts to the roof.
The company is installing solar panels on 39 of its 44 U.S. stores, a move that will save money and sharpen its focus on sustainability.
Since early June, when the Bolingbrook Ikea store began drawing power from 4,784 solar panels installed on its roof, the store has been the largest solar power owner in the state.
Ikea’s Schaumburg store is the second largest with 3,692 solar panels on its roof.
Officials from both stores, as well as solar industry representatives, gathered at the Bolingbrook store Wednesday to officially switch on the solar energy.
The 310,000-square-foot Bolingbrook store opened in 2005. The rooftop solar panels cover 140,300 square feet and will generate enough energy to power 112 homes.
While the store installed the solar panel system with a long-term commitment in mind, Bolingbrook store manager Christof Stein said it already is seeing results.
“It’s too early to say how much we’re going to save,” he said. “But we’re already seeing returns.”
The company’s Swedish heritage inspires its focus on sustainable business practices, Ikea officials said.
Ikea owns and operates the solar energy systems at each store.
Pete Kadens, president of SoCore Energy, the company that developed the solar installation, said Ikea officials contacted him after hearing news of the company’s 2011 contract with Walgreens.
“Ikea hasn’t sat on the sidelines and said: ‘I should do this, I should do this.’ Ikea has done it,” Kadens said.
The store already has stopped selling incandescent light bulbs and gotten rid of plastic shopping bags. The building was designed with skylights, energy-efficient heating, cooling and lighting and water-conserving plumbing.
“We’re very proud Ikea is in Bolingbrook,” said Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar, who attended Wednesday’s “solarbration.”
He mentioned that recycling is “way up” in the village of Bolingbrook and urged everyone to incorporate environmentally-friendly practices into their everyday lives.
“Ask for that pad of recycled paper, it’ll make a difference,” he said.