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Thread: Sustainable design for new shopping malls?

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    Sustainable design for new shopping malls?

    I'm looking for resources on best practices / green design for new shopping mall developments. Any tips are appreciated. Thanks!

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I don't know how much you'll find in North America, because very few enclosed malls have been built here in the past decade. Retail development has shifted to lifestyle centers, and at least in the United States, underperforming malls are being culled from the retail landscape at a growing rate.

    Traditional American-style malls are still being built in South Africa, so it might be one place to look for best practices.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by urbanscrawl View post
    I'm looking for resources on best practices / green design for new shopping mall developments. Any tips are appreciated. Thanks!
    [ecologist's hat]

    "sustainable" shopping mall is an oxymoron.

    [/ecologist's hat]
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    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    [ecologist's hat]

    "sustainable" shopping mall is an oxymoron.

    [/ecologist's hat]
    I'd agree. The most sustainable shopping mall is the internet.

    Perhaps you can define what you mean by sustainable? For example, the most logical ones incorporate transit lines such as Eaton Centre in T.O. of Pentagon and Crystal City in suburban DC.

    Probably the most sustainable would be small foodstores within walking distance of housing. This however won't make the developers money.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    ...The most sustainable shopping mall is the internet....
    Hmmm... Maybe a downtown or traditional neighborhood shopping district instead? I think if you look at the qualities of such districts - multiple uses, pedestrian-oriented, proximity to residential areas, higher percentages of local ownership of both properties and businesses, etc. - you would find many of the keys to sustainability. Besides this, redevelopment and/or reuse is generally going to prove to be more sustainable than greenfield development, especially when that greenfield development is a component of sprawl. In a similar vein, it is hard to argue that a new retail center is "sustainable" if it cannibalizes sales from existing locations, as is usually the case.
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    The recently completed renovation (actually a partial redevelopment) of the River Creek Mall in Salt Lake - in to a mixed use complex - has a lot of sustainability features and is LEED ND certified. You can find quite a few case studies on that project if google for it.

    A few years ago, Westfield engaged a team of sustainability consultants to work with architects on design strategies for the renovation of University Town Center, right outside of La Jolla. I know they're in construction on that project now, so I presume that the client's agreed to at least some of those changes. I don't know what's been published on that though.

    I'm hoping to begin work on a major new Canadian redevelopment that'll emphasize sustainability.. hopefully to a new standard.

    Dan is correct.. there has been no new regional malls in the US and Canada for many many years.

    Outside of the US but still in the Americas, I can think of a new major mall and mixed-use complex on top of the mall podium under development (BMX Monark). That project is putting a lot of emphasis on sustainability and is seeking multiple certifications. I googled around and found images here:
    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?p=91829735

    There is at least one other major project in Sao Paulo Pinheiros and two major malls under development in Rio... all with a sustainability agenda.

    In other part of the world, I would take a look at the following projects:
    - Plaza 66, Shanghai (actually, any of the Group 66 developed projects in China.. it's a mall developer that likes sustainability)
    - Palace 66, Shenyang (if you like PVs.. lots and lots and lots of PVs)
    - MidCity Place, London
    - The Landmark, Hongkong

    Unfortunately, unlike for office buildings and residential, retail tenants haven't really jumped on the sustainability bandwagon with quite the enthusiasm of many other user groups, so there are still only a limited number of malls that embrace environmental design and other sustainability strategies wholeheartedly.

    As we do quite a bit of mall work, I may be able to provide information on the int'l projects I mentioned if you email me privately.
    Last edited by Cismontane; 30 May 2012 at 12:41 PM.

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    I'd agree. The most sustainable shopping mall is the internet. .
    Not really .. that depends on how efficient or inefficient the e-fulfillment supply chain looks like. Some of the highest environmental footprint retailing in the US involves e-tailers.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post

    Unfortunately, unlike for office buildings and residential, retail tenants haven't really jumped on the sustainability bandwagon with quite the enthusiasm of many other user groups, .
    I'd say that if there would actually be one that is "sustainable", you'd want a structure that is very energy-efficient, energy-generating, very long-lasting, and also convertible to other uses when society changes and endless shopping for distraction and trinkets for most people goes the way of the atlatl, walled castle, ox plow, etc (all of which may come back as human population shrinks). That is: "sustainable" is misused so often...

    Hm. Did I put the ecologists' hat on again?
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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    That is: "sustainable" is misused so often...
    I agree with your definition. The issue here is that retail tenants - the group that mall developers respond to in terms of the sustainability measures they are willing to undertake in the planning, design, construction and ongoing management of their projects, aren't yet, as interested in these issues as they could be.. some key chains being exceptions... and only partial ones. Tenants may, to a limited extent, prioritize operational sustainability (energy, etc), but are wholly indiferent to materials, the disposition of buildings they occupation once their leases expire, much less the subsequent uses, and they want you to buy as many trinkets as they can sell.

    Short of war or ecological collapse, the human population as a whole won't start shrinking for another century or so. Some parts will, but that's another issue altogether.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    The retail environment of today is sharply different than the one that I grew up in. Nearly all of the stores that were around when I was a child in the early 1970's are long gone. The only major retailers that come to mind from those days are Sears, K-mart and JC Penney all of which are struggling in the current environment. Retail will continue to adapt and change to meet market demands or respond to what creates the best bottom line for the individual company. Currently it is moving towards an internet based economy, but that is no gaurantee that it will continue along that path.

    In such a market, trying to determine what is sustainable when the life span of a major retail chain is probably no more than 30-40 years is impossible to gauge. Retail is sustained by profits and in such an environment there is fast change so what is sustainable today may not be the same thing as what is sustainable in 5 years.

    A shopping mall by definition is a single use entity. It is not mixed use. I agree that adding mixed uses will help cultivate a good retail environment but so will access to transportation, convenience, good marketing, and service. In short design is not the only answer to what will make a shopping mall sustainable, and maybe nothing can make it sustainable. Yes you can and should consider LEED, water runoff issues, and other urban planner stuff when designing and mall but that will not make the mall sustainable as shopping is sustained by consumers not environmental stewards.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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