Our LEED Certification portfolio is full of retail projects, but one retail building type has been elusive: the mall in-line store. That is, until this year. With a project on the boards now (sorry, confidential), we have worked out a path to the LEED plaque.

Getting LEED certification for a retail store in a mall setting can be difficult. If the mechanical system is an extension of an inefficient, centralized mall boiler or cooling tower, getting LEED points for the store’s mechanical system can be difficult or impossible. Similarly, if there is no space in the mall’s service areas for construction waste management, even these typically easy points can be out of reach. And the points for daylight and views are usually a non-starter for a mall in-line store.

What we’ve learned though, is that there are many other points that are available. For example, within the Sustainable Sites category, six LEED points are attainable if the mall is located within ½ mile of a residential neighborhood with a certain density as well as normal services (bank, grocery, pharmacy, and the like). An additional six points are available if two or more bus lines serve the mall. Is there “preferred parking” for fuel-efficient vehicles? That’s another point. So, for only three categories, 13 points are available, and we have only just started.

For basic certification, 40 points are required. By using slightly more efficient water supply fixtures within the store, six more points can be had. At nineteen points, we’re almost half-way to LEED certification, and there are a variety of valuable points in the Energy and Atmosphere category. Let’s assume that we cannot get any points for HVAC, because the mall’s system isn’t efficient enough. We could get 4 points if the retailer’s equipment (copiers, office equipment, appliances) is EnergyStar rated. Hiring a commissioning agent to verify that the tenant space is designed and constructed to operate as the retailer intended is worth another 5 points. And then in the months after construction, the retailer’s staff can follow up with a measurement and verification system, to make sure everything is working the way it was at store open, or make adjustments as necessary. Committing to measure and verify is worth up to 5 more points. Total so far: 33 points.

To get those last seven points, for Basic Certification, there are points for recycled content in building materials, sourcing materials from within 500 miles of the project, low-emitting materials (low VOC’s), and of course every project can provide an innovative component that hasn’t been thought of by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council).

Now, this is not to say that our goal is to be just sustainable enough to get a plaque. With every project we do at Arrowstreet, we strive to use every tool we have to be as sustainable as possible. We designed the first LEED Platinum building in Boston 10 years ago, and since then we have attained LEED Gold, Silver and Basic certifications for a bunch of other projects. But with this mall in-line store, now we know that even this difficult building type can be green.

Topics: Retail, Sustainability