IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer, announced this week that it will obtain all of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and grow more trees than it consumes under its new environmental initiative. IKEA is following an emerging trend for large-scale commercial retailers like Walmart in attempting to reduce their utility bills by going green.
Initially, IKEA will invest $1.95 billion up until 2015 in solar and wind power to produce at least 70 percent of the company’s energy. IKEA already owns wind farms in six European nations and has 342,000 solar panels producing 43 MW for its stores, warehouses and factories that generate 27 percent of the group’s electricity. The company is planning to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by half by 2015 compared to 2010 levels.
Since the company is owned by a private Swedish foundation, it has been a lot more aggressive compared to the typical publicly-traded company in utilizing renewable energy and following green building practices, as it is more free to carry out its business plan.
IKEA is planning to optimize its merchandise selection to appeal better to customers with interest in green products and plans to shift sales increasingly towards energy-efficient products including induction cookers and LED light bulbs by 2016.
When it comes to energy-efficient solid state lighting using LED bulbs, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has been the leading government agency supporting this technology in order to make it more mainstream and cost-effective. The DOE released a common cost model last month for the manufacturing of LED packaging, which is the single largest contributing factor to the high cost of LED bulbs versus less energy-efficient alternative options. Developed by a DOE working group in response to feedback from previous DOE workshops and roundtables, the Modular LED Cost Model (LEDCOM) provides a simplified method for analyzing the manufacturing costs of an LED package. This measure will be a guideline to industry representatives, similar to past roadmaps and incentives the DOE has published for LED lighting.
The promotion of green building installations has been one of the mantras of the Obama administration over the last four years. Numerous programs emerged during his first term in office offering tax credits and incentives for homeowners to make energy-efficient retrofit renovations to their homes and businesses. In addition, the Recovery Act offered millions in funds to state and local governments to conduct green building overhauls to their offices and buildings including solid-state lighting, solar panels, smart meters, insulation and window treatments etc.
However, the measures only had a short-term spillover effect in boosting economic activity, as the President failed to properly promote and have Congress pass comprehensive clean energy legislation that would have had a permanent impact by elevating gross domestic product for years to come. Now he is partly paying the price in a razor-thin close election race for a second term, as the economy drags forward at a snail’s pace.
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