Briarwood Mall following Ann Arbor and national retail trend by going green
The new LED lighting coming as part of Briarwood Mall’s renovation is expected to save more than 320,000 kilowatt hours per year, enough to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of 28 single-family homes.
Briarwood will be upgrading its interior and exterior lighting to the newer LED lights that use less electricity than traditional light bulbs. New automatic doors will also help to save energy by stabilizing temperatures inside, officials said.
The greener side of the renovation took center stage for local politicians who attended the renovation’s “tile breaking” ceremony on Tuesday.
“Ann Arbor is one of the leading cities in the national in energy efficiency, and it has been for a long time,” Mayor John Hieftje said.
“And that attitude permeates throughout our community. You see homes with solar panels going up and all kinds of energy initiatives taken by residents.”
Hieftje said that renewable energy initiatives are good, but there is a lot that can be done using available technologies to increase energy efficiency.
The energy efficiency bug has been spreading around Ann Arbor as more city projects and retail locations look to save energy to promote their brand and boost their bottom line.
“The best dollar to spend is on energy efficiency,” Hieftje said.
“It’s not until you have energy efficiency things in line that you even look at renewable energy The money we spend on energy efficiency at the city level actually saves our taxpayers money, so I know this will save Briarwood money over time.”
Nationally, major retailers including Wal-Mart have made sustainability and efficiency planks in their corporate platforms.
In 2009, a study from Retail Systems Research and the Retail Industry Leaders Association found that leading retailers were integrating eco-friendly policies. The study found that tying a brand to the “green” label was worth more in the long run than any short-term cost savings that might come from avoiding energy-saving initiatives. Economics, in addition to ethics, can be a major motivation for change.
Kristin Eberts | Muskegon Chronicle
“This renovation is going to create buzz and bring new people into the mall who will be coming to visit their stores. At the same time, their costs will go down because we all will be paying less with the new lighting systems.”
While some green initiatives save money, regional retail giant Meijer has taken a number of steps to making its company more green, including building all of new stores since 2007 up to LEED standards. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design. Projects that meet LEED standards get certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.)
However, some of the initiatives Meijer has undertaken are not paying monetary dividends.
“One thing we’ve done is put near-zero diesel emission technology on our entire truck fleet,” said spokesman Frank Guglielmi.
“It does have to make business sense; it can’t be cost prohibitive, but we’re willing to take the expense to do the right thing.”
For Murray, all of these issues combined to make the mall’s environmental initiative a no-brainer.
“In addition to helping the community, the savings from not using so much electricity will trickle down so we’re saving money for the retailers as well,” Murray said. “And it’s also just the right thing to do.”