Though Mall of America® boasts significant square footage, its designers and engineers are even more proud of the measures taken 25 years ago to create an energy efficient space, before the term “green” was in vogue. Here are a few ways the Mall was ahead of its time—and how it continues to evolve into a cleaner, greener destination.
No central heating system
From the onset, planners envisioned a more efficient approach when building the Mall. How did they achieve it? With a series of skylights that would produce solar energy—which, combined with body heat from the Mall’s many visitors, would ensure a comfortable temperature throughout the winter months. In fact, on some winter days, the building is actually cooled with outside air if things get a little too toasty.
Live plants, trees—and ladybugs!
Since the beginning, greenery has been central to the Mall’s design. Visitors can explore an indoor forest with more than 30,000 plants and trees, from the immense height of the Norfolk Island Pines to a touch of the tropics as they saunter past the bamboo palm trees. The added benefit? Cleaner air within the Mall. Although the landscaping team takes great care to maintain the greenery, they don’t use pesticides. Instead, around Earth Day every year and as needed, they release more than 50,000 ladybugs, which eat any pests that could damage the plants.
A recycling mindset
While visitors roam the corridors, behind the scenes lies a system of chutes that deposit waste at the central loading dock. There, a dedicated team manages recycling, compost and garbage to keep as much out of the waste stream as possible. The Mall’s tenants are key to the process; they do much of the separating ahead of time. Dirt and plant trimmings become compost, food waste goes to a local hog farm, construction metals get recycled, and grease and cooking oils are hauled away by a company that makes soap, which the Mall buys back, as well as fuel.
Energy and water efficiency
Six years ago, the Mall reduced its parking-garage electricity usage by two-thirds simply by changing all light fixtures to LEDs. A gradual switch to LED lighting within the Mall is underway. The bathrooms also save water with more efficient fixtures. All new construction at the Mall follows environmentally sound design and practices.
Changing with the times
The green team at the Mall is always on the lookout for new ways to reduce environmental impact. In recent years, that has meant using green cleaning products and low VOC paints, installing car charging stations in the parking garages, and keeping an eye on changing food container trends. By staying on top of the latest environmental needs, the Mall is sure to be a green leader for the next 25 years.