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Heating the Largest Mall in America

Posted by Laura Landvik on Jul 9, 2014 9:17:00 AM

Ever Wonder How the Biggest Mall in America Stays Warm?

Since the Mall of America (MOA) opened its doors in 1992, it annually hosts more than 40 million vi
Heating the largest mall in Americasitors each year - all of whom enjoy a comfortable 70-degree shopping and entertaining experience. Regardless what time of year they visit, they’ve appreciated that indoor temperature without any formal heating system. To put that into perspective, consider this Bloomington, Minnesota mall has over 4.8 million gross square feet, 520-plus stores, an amusement park, aquarium and other restaurants and attractions. You’d think a space that size in the frigid Midwest would need heat – but it doesn’t. How do they keep the temperature a comfy 70-degrees, year-round? The common areas are heated in three ways:

Solar Radiation (skylights)

This passive solar energy comes from 1.2 miles of skylights that run primarily above Nickelodeon Universe (the amusement park). Think of it as a giant greenhouse!

Lighting Fixture Heat

The fixtures from stores and common spaces generates extra heat. What some consider waste energy the mall is using as an important source to heat the building.

People

More than 40 million visitors can surely generate a lot of body heat! Sometimes so much that the air conditioning system needs to kick in during the busy holiday shopping season (which is the dead of winter!). Despite Minnesota's cold winters, only the Mall's entrances and some underground areas are heated. Although the common areas are unheated, individual stores do have heating systems, if needed. Mall of America was very intentional when it was built to be as environmentally friendly as possible. And as the Mall goes through changes and expansions, it continues to be an example of a green building. Here are fun ways the Mall of America goes green:
  • More than 30,000 live plants and 300 live trees act as natural air purifiers within the MOA.
  • The MOA converts the fat from restaurant fryers into more than 2 tons of biodiesel per month - enough fuel for a 53-foot semi-truck to travel from New York to Los Angeles five times!
  • This giant mall recycles more than 2,400 tons of food waste to a local hog farm, which feeds more than one million hog meals annually.
The next time you visit Mall of America, consider just how ‘cool’ it is that a space that huge can maintain a comfortable temperature without any formal heating system. It’s pretty amazing.

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Topics: Minnesota