Elliot Ikenna Ogbechina, Sustainability and Energy Consultant

Energy Efficiency in Shopping Centers

A shopping center is generally regarded as a building, or a complex of buildings, designed and built to contain a group of retail stores and service establishments, usually with large parking space available and delivering many interconnected activities for a specific community or neighborhood. Shopping centers have become a market hub for economic and customer comfort, but they also have a large impact on sustainability and climate change. Large shopping malls can have major impacts on energy consumption because of the characteristics the buildings hold. Fortunately, there are recommendations to improve energy consumption in shopping centers that can increase their worth and value. This article aims to point out these recommendations, along with highlighting the typical characteristics of a shopping center’s energy consumption, major hindrances to improving their energy performances and the effect of these improvements on the worth and value of the shopping centre.


Energy Consumption Characteristics of Shopping Centers and their Impact on Climate Change.

Internationally, there are differences in energy use and system solutions due to local outdoor climate, available energy resources, prices, national building regulations, traditions, etc. For a shopping center, tenants are generally international chains, which usually have the same demands with respect to system solutions, indoor climate, and so forth along with their counterparts in other locations, regardless of the climatic differences. Shopping centers usually tend to have large lighting loads, high population density and hence a large air conditioning demand. There is also a trend towards increasing glass surfaces and such design features affect the energy balance of the building.

Today, in addition to the commercial function, shopping centers satisfy numerous needs. They provide recreational attractions and modern amenities and are most commonly visited for dining purposes, rather than for daily purchasing needs. Consequently, the retail tenant mix and general atmosphere have the highest relative importance, in addition to location, refreshments, and overall convenience.

Heated shopping centers with sofas, cafes, entertainment and spacious parking places are becoming increasingly prevalent as the amount of time spent in shopping centers increases. But heating, air quality, and adequate lighting for customers involve significant costs. The average energy consumption for such centers is about 300 kWh per square metre in Europe, generating high levels of CO2 emissions and waste.

While most European shopping centers have already been built, there is still enormous potential for energy savings thanks to the practice of regular retrofitting and redesign, with around 4% of malls undergoing renovation work each year. This state of constant change offers regular opportunities to improve the technical systems, such as lighting, ventilation, the building envelope, and monitoring systems.

Impact of energy efficiency on buildings: Increasing the worth and value

Sustainability is fast becoming synonymous with good business. Brand and reputation management are key drivers for sustainability. Financial performance is no longer the sole driver for business. Companies are becoming aware that business sustainability (and, ultimately, financial performance) is determined by a combination of factors including economic growth, environmental balance, and social progress. Employees, communities, activist groups, governments, and increasingly, financial institutions, are putting pressure on companies to actively demonstrate their control over related environmental and social risks as well as improving their performance in these areas.

Many industries, including retail and property development, are beginning to come to terms with the challenges of sustainability and climate change. To address these issues, and to recognize emerging market demands, landlords have taken a leading role in working with tenants to incorporate principles of sustainable development within their shopping centers[1].

Investing in sustainable features increases the market value of shopping centers in the UK by more than 5%, according to new research undertaken by CBRE. This is especially the case for older shopping centers (25+ years old), which could see gains exceeding 5%. For an average £100million shopping center, such energy-saving retrofits could increase the value to £105million. Meanwhile, more modern centers (less than 5 years old) show a realizable value gain of over 1%.


Strategies for reducing energy consumption in shopping centres

General strategies for the reduction of energy consumption in shopping malls include, but are not limited to:

  • Implementation of a multifunctional climate adaptive façade system, with multi-purpose coatings as well as potential applications for the strategic integration of vegetation to reduce heating and cooling demand.
  • Application of smart natural ventilation and cooling to reduce the use of energy-intensive climate control systems,
  • The application of heat pumps and heat-recovery technologies to reuse waste heat.
  • The implementation of LED lighting with optimal light management systems and sensors to make lighting more efficient.
  • The enabling of greater use of natural light through windows, skylights, and solar tubes.
  • The implementation of renewable energy generation, incorporating solar collectors, photovoltaic (PV) panels, and innovative battery systems to help meet the building’s energy needs. A guide to effective solar PV systems sizing, by our subsidiary Longevity Power, is available here.
  • The implementation of an intelligent building energy management system to enable fine-tuned control of all systems to reduce energy consumption and operational costs.


The need for Landlord-Tenant relationships

Approximately 25% of retail property carbon emissions are generated by units within shopping centers, retail parks and high street blocks. These units are arguably the easiest to eradicate, because these assets tend to be considerably larger, more modern, and principally owned by large institutional landlords with access to the finance and expertise required to ‘green’ them.

However, this is not always the case. The implementation of energy and carbon-saving technologies becomes complicated because of the leasehold property status; with many tenants having personally set sustainability targets, being in full control of the systems within their units and having separate timelines in terms of implementation of energy measures while looking to not disrupt their businesses. This introduces a barrier as many of the larger, energy efficiency measures require active collaboration between the (landlord) owner and the (tenant) occupier for successful implementation.

There are various new mechanisms in place to smooth this barrier, using environmentally conscious legal instruments: either Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) between parties with existing tenancy agreements, or directly inserted clauses specifying mechanisms for collaboration between parties within new lease agreements; so-called ‘Green Leases’. One thing is certain, the need for an effective landlord-tenant relationship is of utmost importance in the energy efficiency of Shopping Centers[2].


How can Longevity Partners help you?

In a world where energy efficiency and sustainability are increasingly common terms in both the private and public sector, it can be frustrating when budgets are shrinking, and demands are increasing. At Longevity, our Building Optimization services can evaluate your asset to highlight the possible energy efficiency measures to be implemented, their respective energy savings, returns on investment and project financing opportunities by undertaking a Net Zero Carbon Audit

With our Net Zero Carbon Audit process, the tenant and landlord will be able to:

  • Understand the energy use of the building, which offers greater transparency and through which both parties can begin to optimize their spaces and find mutually beneficial strategies.
  • Set internal energy savings goals or targets based on findings in the report
  • Gain a better picture of efficiency improvements that can be applied to the tenant’s leased space.
  • Develop efficient build-out standards which help to streamline and simplify upgrades and renovations to incorporate energy efficiency as standard practice.
  • Gain access to tested and trusted suppliers to enable the implementation of the energy conservation measures recommended.
  • Identify available subsidies, incentives, and other financing options available for the implementation of measures which may fall outside the budget.
  • Advise on the best mechanism to implement in enabling effective landlord-tenant relationships.


Contact Longevity Partners for your Net Zero Carbon Audit




RETAIL DELIVERY Tenants Sustainability Guide and Requirements by Hammerson DOCMAN_LDN_734198_1 (corporate-ir.net)

Energy efficiency boosts value of shopping centres – Concept


Making shopping centres beacons of energy efficiency


Shopping centre retrofits could play major part in EU green goals – EiBi


Energy savings in shopping centres – SINTEF


Energy Efficiency in Shopping Centres – Maximpact


1.4 billion sq ft of UK retail space could fail to meet energy efficiency standards – Savillis news

Quantifying the impact of green leasing on energy use in a retail portfolio: limits to big data analytics 8-256-17_Wallom_FINAL SUBMISSION (ox.ac.uk)

[1] DOCMAN_LDN_734198_1 (corporate-ir.net)

[2] Quantifying the impact of green leasing on energy use in a retail portfolio: limits to big data analytics 8-256-17_Wallom_FINAL SUBMISSION (ox.ac.uk)

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