Holistic climate action at its finest – a tour in IKEA’s new London store

5 March 2019

As The Climate Group works to inspire and showcase the highest levels of leadership on climate action in the private sector, our Corporate Actions Engagement Manager Ole Jakobsen shares his experiences of touring the UK’s newest IKEA store.

My colleagues and I are just back from visiting one of the most sustainable retail stores in the UK. The new IKEA store in Greenwich, London, boasts a holistic approach to climate action, combining renewable energy, clean transport and a circular economy. Surrounded by hyper-efficient solar panels installed on the roof, I felt inspired by the level of opportunity.

Our day started in the parking lot, amongst a sea of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that allow customers to charge up while shopping. As a member of The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative, INGKA Group (formerly IKEA Group) has committed to switch its fleet to electric and install charging points at all IKEA stores and offices worldwide. Customers charging their vehicles are entitled to a discount on an in-store purchase, encouraging the uptake of EVs.

The Climate Group is shown solar panels on the roof of IKEA Greenwich

Entering the basement of the store through what seemed like a maze of white corridors, it quickly became apparent how efficient the building is. The installed ground source heat pumps provide heating and cooling. An energy management system ensures that the store never uses more energy than it needs, while rainwater capture cuts down on water consumption.

Working our way up the building we were led to the roof and met by 2,600 modules of monocrystalline solar panels with a capacity of 850 kW glistening in the morning sunshine. A founding member of RE100, our corporate leadership initiative with CDP, INGKA Group is committed to generating as much renewable energy as the energy it consumes by 2020, and to having 100% renewable electricity in all its buildings by 2025. This was the perfect visual representation.

Combining action on electrifying transport and heating, decarbonizing electricity and improving energy efficiency, INGKA Group is a shining example of what’s possible. It’s showing how to undertake sustainability projects that benefit the bottom line and adapt its existing business model to a more sustainable future.

IKEA ground source heat pumps

After getting back inside the store, we learned about the work being done to enable a circular flow of materials. “IKEA customers are now incentivized to return old IKEA furniture and textiles to the shop through different reward mechanisms,” Greg Lucas, the IKEA UK and IE Circular and Renewable Energy Leader, told us.

The IKEA learning lab enables children and adults to learn how to increase the lifetime of their products. To my great disappointment I found out that the workshops are so popular that they are already fully-booked for the next month.

At the end of our tour, standing on the roof of the IKEA store once more, I gazed through the smog at St. Paul’s Cathedral in temperatures twice as high as they should be this time of year. Three things were as apparent as ever:

  1. swift and ambitious action on climate change and air pollution needs to be taken now  
  2. the solutions to do so already exist and holistic thinking is enabling those solutions to be affordable  
  3. sharing knowledge of how to take action is as important as ever.

My sincere thanks go out to Hege, Karol, Rob and Greg of INGKA Group for enabling this amazing experience. It was wonderful to see such a focus on mainstreaming sustainable living – an ambitious retailer not only reducing its own emissions but taking steps to make everyday efforts by individuals easy, affordable and desirable.

We’d love to hear from other companies that are taking ambitious climate action, positioning themselves as the leaders of tomorrow. Email info@theclimategroup.org

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