Shopping centres are forward-looking spaces where one can find not only the last trends in entertainment, but also the most innovative systems with regard to technologies related to sustainability, energy efficiency (access control systems and automatic doors in the shopping centre) and environmental responsibility.

It is estimated that sustainable shopping centres can consume up to 70% less energy than the conventional ones due to the use of new technologies, structural improvements and particularly thanks to the use and exploitation of renewable energies.

What are self-sufficient shopping centres like?

  1. The shopping centres of the future base their construction on the use of low environmental impact materials. These materials come from recycled or natural elements and require very little energy for their production and distribution, which guarantees that at the end of their useful life, they will still be usable again to manufacture new products or materials. Besides making use of green materials, this type of architecture employs plants, flowers, trees and bushes as architectural elements, thus reducing environmental impact.

 

  1. Reduction in the use of conventional energies. One of the measures that most helps to reduce the use of electrical energy is the exploitation of renewable energies. There are at present different models of sustainable buildings or large stores, but it is worth to mention as an example of this new model of edification The Wooden Orchids shopping centre by the Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut, known for his futurist and environmentally friendly works.

 

This innovative shopping centre in the Chinese province of Jiangxi has been designed with a view to take most advantage of energy coming from the sun, since it is provided with big south oriented solar panels which cover 50% of each building surface. Solar tubes and cells comprising these panels generate in situ most of the electricity required so that this commercial giant can be self-sufficient and manage without electrical energy.

 

However, the shopping centre designed by Callebaut does not solely use energy coming from the sun. It also takes advantage of geothermal energy to warm up its facilities. It collects rainwater and uses it for garden irrigation and makes use of passive cooling during the hottest time of the year. This reduction in the use of conventional energies entails that environmental impact is minimised, by emitting lower amounts of CO2 and other damaging agents.

  1. Bioclimatic design. One of the main characteristics of sustainable architecture design is that it takes environmental climate conditions into consideration in order to adapt its construction as much as possible to the type of vegetation, light, rainfalls, wind, etc., which entails lower energy consumption and improved environmental protection.

 

  1. Sustainable shopping centres rely on vast extensions of green zones: vertical gardens, interior gardens, green terraces, etc. These green zones contribute to reduce CO2 levels, remove dust and heavy metal particles in the air, give shelter to a variety of native plant and animal species, and function as insulating elements when they are used on roofs and façades, preventing warm and cold air from leaking.

 

Another example of these vast extensions of green zones is that of the Japanese shopping centre Osaka Green Roof Mall, which has an overall garden surface area on its roof of 130,000 square metres.

 

  1. If a shopping centre demands to be self-sufficient, it is necessary to combine the abovementioned attributes, but it also has to avoid energy waste, and the most effective way to achieve it is by avoiding temperature exchanges between the interior and the exterior. In order to avert such exchanges, it is a requisite that buildings are equipped with a proper enclosure and that it is periodically inspected in order to avoid the appearance of cracks and fissures.

 

Another of the most important measures is the one referring to the accesses to shopping centres. Considering that such large stores are visited each day by hundreds or thousands of people, it is required to rely on systems with low energy consumption, guaranteeing user safety in case of evacuation, as well as airtightness in the facilities to avoid temperature exchanges or losses, which is why automatic doors are the best solution to improve user comfort and safety.

Although it is a fact that sustainable constructions are more expensive at the beginning, the investment carried out is made profitable in the medium-term because not only they make use of less energy than traditional buildings, but also costs derived from maintenance are also lower. On the other hand, it should be noted that the added value of these shopping centres is superior to that of the conventional, and that companies being part of them will notice how their brand image enriches substantially.

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