South Florida’s sunshine will power IKEA’s new store in Sweetwater.
The popular home goods giant will open its new store, dubbed IKEA Miami, in summer 2014 with a rooftop array of 4,620 solar panels, capable of generating 1.7 million kilowatt-hours of electricity for the store each year.
That’s enough energy to supply more than 100 average Florida houses, based on statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But it’s not quite enough to power the 416,000-square-foot store, which is more than triple the size of a typical Walmart.
Construction is already underway on 14.6 acres at 1801 NW 117th Ave., near the northwest corner of the Dolphin Mall. Since breaking ground in May, a parking garage has gone up. The store will sell furniture, kitchen cabinets, other home furnishings and Swedish foods, and will sit atop the garage, which will have 1,500 parking spaces.
The project is on schedule and recruitment for employees should start in January or February, according to IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth.
Roth noted that the Sweetwater store will meet the standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.
“Because are each store is so similar, we don't have to get every single store certified,” he said. “We have one LEED-certified store in every key region in the country."
California-based company REC Solar Inc. will design and install the system, which will mark the 40th solar project at an IKEA location in the United States. The Swedish company owns and operates each of its solar energy systems. The other three IKEA stores in Florida are in Tampa, Orlando and Sunrise and also have solar panels. REC Solar, one of five solar energy companies IKEA works with across the country, handled the other three arrays in Florida.
In a news release, IKEA’s U.S. President Mike Ward said the company is proud to invest in four solar projects in Florida.
“This array allows us to continue rolling out solar panels atop 90 percent of our U.S. locations,” he said.
Besides its solar energy projects, IKEA implements other sustainable aspects in their stores. Energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning and lighting systems, recycled construction materials and the elimination of plastic bags at check-out are features at all locations.
The Sweetwater store, the fourth and largest in the state, is expected to create 350 local jobs.