Robinson Township's IKEA is helping Pittsburgh become more "green." The company announced it will be installing solar panels at an additional 20 of its 44 U.S. stores, including the one in Robinson Township.
IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth said the money saved from the energy bill might not necessarily go back into the community, but the installation could create some short-term jobs and will have environmental benefits.
"There will be a significant investment to actually purchase our system, but it definitely will lessen the carbon dioxide intensity on the electrical grid since we'll be using our own tower," he said.
Built in 1989, Pittsburgh's store is one of the oldest of the ones chosen for solar panel installation. Roth said the lack of consistent sunshine in Pittsburgh will not pose any challenges to the system's effectiveness. 12 IKEA stores nationwide already have solar energy systems, but they are not necessarly in locations with an abundance of sunny weather.
"Solar can capture sunlight and warmth sometimes without it being 100 percent sunny outside, and that's definitely what we plan to do. Obviously, the sunnier it is the greater electricity it will generate, but it's still a very positive contribution," Roth said.
Since the construction takes place almost entirely on the roof, Roth said the installation of the solar panels will not close the store or alter its hours. IKEA expects the 2,953 solar panels on the 221,000 square foot Pittsburgh store to keep 684 tons of carbon dioxide from being released the environment in a year. That is the equivalent the emmissions of 115 cars or powering 73 homes for a year.
Roth says materials should be arriving soon so installation can begin almost immediately. The contractor for the Pittsburgh project, REC Solar, expects completion to be sometime between mid-and late-summer.