Converting EU shopping malls into energy efficiency lighthouses

The CommONEnergy project was launched. BPIE is part of the consortium.

The EU-funded CommONEnergy project, launched early October, will turn ‘energivore’ shopping centres into temples of energy conservation. The FP7 project gathers 23 partners representing various industry stakeholders and research and academia from ten European member states.

40% of the energy consumption in the EU is driven by the building sector (BPIE, 2010), making it the top energy-consuming sector before industry and transport. Over a third of EU carbon emissions are related to buildings. The European Union strives to address this through various legislative initiatives aiming at considerably improve the energy performance of European buildings. Due to refrigeration, power lighting, air-conditioning, heating and ventilation, shopping centres are -next to hospitals- among the most energy-demanding buildings, consuming four to five times more energy per square meter than residential buildings. As shopping centres still continue developing despite the increasing online market, the potential to save energy and reduce associated CO2 emissions is manifest.

Shopping malls are temples of consumerism, reflecting our modern, fast-moving, unsustainable lifestyle. Energy performing shopping centres could therefore have a lighthouse effect on consumers. ‘Indeed, shopping malls are mirroring our modern society. They are a place where people meet and communicate. Increasing consumer awareness is one of the key targets of our project. We will produce a toolkit, videos, organize a “Shopping Mall Sustainability Award” and develop guidelines on how to approach the energy-efficient renovation of commercial buildings. We would like to create a domino effect’, says Roberto Lollini, EURAC, consortium leader of CommONEnergy.

The objective of focusing on shopping malls is to reach numerous stakeholders tenants, employees, clients, and upstream, building professionals (contractors, architects, engineers, real estate managers, construction workers…).

During the next four years, researchers and industry partners will be teaming-up to look for solutions and strategies to transform shopping malls into energy efficient architectures and systems. The solutions will be submitted to a real-life test, on three specific demonstration cases in Italy, Norway and Spain. The objective is to re-conceptualize these shopping malls through deep retrofitting based upon a systemic approach involving new technologies and solution sets as well as methods and tools supporting their implementation. The premise will be to ensure that the buildings maintain a good indoor environment and contribute in a cost-effective way to an efficient and environmentally friendly neighbourhood development.

A Lean Construction Management method, for the deep retrofitting of shopping malls will be developed and applied to ensure transparent, easy, but comprehensive new way to organise and structure construction activities. The main advantages are the reduction in construction time and costs.

The case studies’ locations and buildings have been chosen in view of testing the propositions on three different types of shopping centres: a former industrial site, a modern shopping mall and a traditional market. The pilot case will imply an efficient cooperation between project partners, design team, landlords, building managers, tenants and municipalities.

The project will play an active role in shaping EU policy by providing well-structured information on suitable retrofitting solutions and relative support tools for shopping malls.

It has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme

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