Taras Verkhoglyad
Sales Development Representative, Arloid Automation

Top 5 Ways Shopping Malls Can Cut Carbon Emissions

Shopping malls consume vast amounts of energy. From lighting to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, many aspects of a mall’s operations contribute to its overall carbon footprint. And that’s before you consider the emissions produced by consumer travel to and from the building and the lifecycle of the goods themselves.

Fortunately, there are solutions out there, and carbon neutrality is possible for any retail building if the right steps are taken. Arloid has helped shopping malls across the globe cut their carbon footprint – in the UK, the US, the UAE and beyond.

In this blog, we outline the 5 top ways you can significantly reduce shopping mall emissions.

Energy Simulation

Working out where and why energy is being used across the building is an important first step towards sustainability. Armed with your knowledge of the mall’s current performance, you will be able to identify areas to target your improvements and cut carbon emissions as a result. This energy audit should be comprehensive and detailed, providing you with all the information you need to drive tangible change.

Many shopping malls have sought to understand their building better through the creation of a digital twin. In other words, a highly accurate digital model of the building is constructed, and simulations are run to determine the most efficient energy usage patterns. Not only does this provide insights into your building’s overall performance, but it will also provide the data you need to justify any expenditure to shareholders and investors.

Creating the Digital Twin: A Short Guide >

Improve Building Efficiency

More often than not, an energy audit will reveal areas of unnecessary energy wastage. That’s why the next most important thing to do to reduce emissions is to improve the overall energy efficiency of your building. By cutting back on the energy required for the space to function, your carbon footprint will be significantly reduced.

There are various ways to approach this. Lighting accounts for a large proportion of energy consumption in commercial buildings, so why not consider upgrading all fixtures to LEDs? You could also look to install double-glazing where glass is used, and improve the building’s insulation.

For brand new shopping mall construction projects or extensions, there will be more opportunities still. Of course, when building with sustainability in mind, all materials should be recycled or low impact if possible. Beyond this, however, it’s worth considering designing for efficiency. The Mall of America, for example, relies solely on passive heating and cooling facilitated through the building’s design. With 1.2 million skylights, a layout that provides sufficient air circulation, and 30,000 plants and 300 trees purifying the air, the mall is far less reliant on HVAC to function.

How to Optimise Shopping Mall HVAC for Reduced Carbon Emissions >


Of course, the primary way shopping malls can cut carbon emissions is through reducing reliance on carbon in the first place. Transitioning to renewable energy may require significant investment, and it’s unlikely to be possible overnight. However, as retail seeks to become more and more sustainable, decarbonisation should always be the ultimate, overarching goal.

Many malls have incorporated renewable energy technologies like solar panels and wind turbines, and some have even started diverting their organic waste towards biomass boilers. If this isn’t an option for you, changing your energy supplier could be another solution. There’s also the concept of offsetting.

Whilst offsetting should not be prioritised over reduction, global cumulative impact is the key driver behind climate change. As such, quantifying your impact and financially supporting an initiative to transition elsewhere is generally agreed to be the equivalent of reducing your own reliance on carbon. If the transition isn’t practical for you right now, this may provide an acceptable alternative.

Active Energy Management & Automation

Shopping malls are typically operational for a maximum of 12 hours, but many are using energy 24/7. Of course, some of this energy is essential, such as that which is used to power security lighting and refrigeration. However, it’s worth considering whether all of it is necessary. More than that, you could consider installing motion sensors in areas that are less frequently used like changing rooms and bathrooms. That way, they will only illuminate when required.

The shopping malls of the future will provide a digitised, multi-channel consumer experience. But digitisation can also offer benefits when it comes to cutting emissions. Active energy management systems are now available that can offer automated optimisation of building utilities – yet only 2% of building managers are using them.

Take HVAC. Shopping malls cover a huge amount of space and are heavily reliant on their HVAC systems to make this space comfortable. However, manual scheduling and legacy data will never provide the energy efficiency required. These systems can be proactively managed with the help of innovative AI to cut energy usage by 30% – a significant opportunity to take control of your mall’s carbon footprint.

Discover arloid.ai >

“Architectural Biodiversity”

As we touched one earlier in this article, incorporating live plants and green spaces into your shopping mall can be highly beneficial. In Milan, Stefano Boeri’s the Vertical Forest is offering us a glimpse into what might be possible in the future – a vision of architecture that provides space for other species as well as humans. This building incorporates an amount of vegetation equivalent to 30,000 square metres of woodland on only 3,000 square metres of actual urban space – all looked after by a team of “flying gardeners”.

For shopping malls looking to cut carbon, engaging with this concept of architectural biodiversity may help. Not only will green spaces absorb CO2, but they will also regulate humidity and thermal conditions, providing a pleasant environment for consumers.

For existing malls, there are still things you can do retrospectively. You could look to install a green roof or a series of green walls, or even just increase the amount of plants and foliage outside your mall. Even a small areas of greenery will absorb local emissions and harmful microparticles. More than that, it offers an immediate visual signifier to the green consumer that you take your environmental responsibilities seriously.

Cut Shopping Mall Carbon Emissions with AI

If you’re looking for a way to reduce the carbon footprint of your shopping mall, Arloid can help. Available with no capital investment, our cutting-edge AI technology has the power to improve the energy efficiency of HVAC systems in just 60 days – no matter your building’s size or complexity.

Ready to embrace the future of building management? Get in touch to find out more.

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