The Mall of America Does Not Have a Central Heating System
By Chad Upton | Editor
In case you’re not familiar with the Mall of America, it’s a 2.5 million sq. ft. shopping center in Bloomington Minnesota, a suburb of the “Twin Cities” (Minneapolis and Saint Paul). The mall opened in 1992 and contains more than 520 stores, two seven story parking garages with a total of 20,000 parking spaces, a giant aquarium and of course an indoor amusement park.
I was there in 1993 on a big family road trip and it was amazing. A building of this size seems like it should have a massive heating system to stay comfortable during winter months. But, the engineers had a much more creative solution in mind.
The mall entrances do have heaters between the double doors for comfort, but the common areas are heated in three other ways:
- Solar Radiation (Skylights)
- Lighting Fixture Heat
Yes, the skylights let in light which is converted into heat (think of it like a giant green house). The lighting fixtures give off heat, which is typically considered waste energy, but is an important part of heating the building. The people inside generate a lot of heat too. In fact, the guests generate enough heat during peak winter hours that the air conditioning system runs full blast to keep the mall comfortable.
Considering the age of this mall, this is a forward thinking concept — it reduces their need for energy, which saves money and keeps our valuable energy resources available for making lattes and watching The View.
Another little known (and ironic) fact: the Mall of America is owned and operated by Canadians. The Ghermezian family also owns West Edmonton Mall, which is 30% larger than Mall of America, sporting the world’s largest indoor water park; an ice rink; 800+ stores; an aquarium and the world’s largest indoor amusement park with 24 rides, including the largest indoor roller coaster. A planned expansion to Mall of America will make it larger than West Edmonton Mall.
Photo: Dave Wallick (creative commons)