Arundel Mills Mall has set numerous standards as a regional shopping destination. Among the mall’s accomplishments, its management has established a standard for environmental diligence and awareness.
“We did a lot of green things back in the beginning with the mall’s design,” explained Gene Condon, mall vice president and general manager. “The mall was designed with the idea of having the least possible environmental impact.”
Located in Hanover at the junction of Route 100 and the Baltimore Washington Parkway, the mall originally was developed by the Mills Corporation and opened in November 2000. Current owner Simon Property Group, headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., is one of the nation’s largest public real estate companies. Simon owns or has an interest in 393 properties comprising 264 million square feet of gross leasable area in North America, Europe and Asia.
Arundel Mills is the region’s second largest enclosed shopping complex (Westfield Annapolis Mall surpassed Arundel Mills with its 2007 expansion), encompassing 1.6 million square feet, with 1.3 million square feet of useable retail space currently housing 250 tenants. Seventeen of those tenants are considered to be “anchor stores,” and 25 tenants are food related.
The mall’s interior layout is a loop “racetrack” design. A central corridor, hidden behind the retail spaces, facilitates deliveries with access for electric vehicles and other delivery systems.
Arundel Mills is the first enclosed mall to feature a Medieval Times dinner theater, complete with armor-clad knights jousting on horseback. The mall also has an Egyptian-themed 24-screen megaplex theater, one of the highest-attended movie houses in the United States.
‘The Right Thing to Do’
Among the steps taken to reduce the mall’s environmental impact, Condon mentioned a series of stream restoration projects and “aggressive storm water management plans” as a part of the initial construction. “We never talked about it,” he continued, “We just did it because it was the right thing to do.”
Condon is also quick to point out the mall’s other “green” features. A computerized building management system controls the Trane rooftop air handling units. The units’ operation is keyed to the building’s load, and economizer dampers further boost efficiency.
A refined electrical demand program enables the mall to meet all goals for load shedding. Condon is looking into adding new technology to streamline the demand response and improve load shedding on the air handlers.
While the individual tenants control energy use within their spaces, all common area lighting is designed for economical T-8 fixtures. “We use sophisticated timers and photocells,” said Condon, “and we successfully experimented with LED [light-emitting diode] lighting during the holidays. All of our holiday lighting displays were 100% LED.”
Skylights augment the illumination in common areas and low-flow plumbing fixtures throughout the mall reduce water use. Mall management also maintains a fleet of bicycles and electric vehicles, including Segways and T-3 three-wheelers.
Easy to Recycle
Condon is particularly proud of the mall’s recycling efforts. “We’ve had a major recycling program since the mall opened. We partnered with our waste management company to bring in single stream recycling, using two different color trash receptacles: brown to recycle, blue for trash. We have also located trash compactors so that they are convenient for the merchants to use easily.
“We expanded recycling into the common areas, and created a program 18 months ago for recycling from the food court. Currently, 30% of the waste stream is recycled and we are constantly looking for more possibilities to recycle.”
“The key is making it easy for both the customers and the retailers,” said Wendy Ellis, director of Mall Marketing and Business Development. “A lot of effort goes into educating tenants on how to use energy wisely and recycle more. Now, we want to recycle plastic bags.”
“And I’d love to have composting in the food court,” added Condon.
Keeping It Simple
Both Condon and Ellis pointed out that they have tried to keep their recycling programs simple so that people didn’t have to think about it. As an example, the mall has partnered with Coca-Cola to place recycling bins immediately next to the beverage dispensing machines. “It’s a simple program,” said Ellis, “properly designed and expanded throughout the mall.”
Ellis also mentioned that most of the cleaning supplies used throughout the mall are organic. “Now we have access to quality products at affordable prices. The organic cleaning products are as good as the traditional products.”
“We are ahead of the curve in going green,” stated Condon. His emphasis on recycling has made Arundel Mills “… leading pioneers within the [Simon] company.”
Most of the environmental initiatives are voluntary for the merchants. As an example, the mall management tries to work with tenant contractors to recycle construction materials whenever retail spaces undergo renovations. Additionally, three of the larger restaurants employ an automated cooking oil recovery system made by Restaurant Technologies Inc. The system can achieve a 75% reduction in oil use and keeps unsightly barrels of cooking oil — new and used — off of the mall’s loading docks.
“We did it [employ green techniques] for the right reasons originally, but we never talked about it or publicized it, said Condon. “But, the younger generation expects this emphasis on environmental concerns. The demand has caught up; the quality is there now.”