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Heating the Largest Mall in America

Ever Wonder How the Biggest Mall in America Stays Warm?

heating mall of americaSince the the Mall of America (MOA) opened its doors in 1992, it hosts more than 40 million visitors each year, one-third traveling from outside of 150 miles. All of them enjoy a comfortable 70-degree shopping and entertaining experience, yet regardless what time of year they visit, they’ve appreciated that indoor temperature without any formal heating system.

To put that into perspective, consider that this Bloomington, Minnesota mall has over 4.8 million gross square feet, 520-plus stores, an amusement park, aquarium and other restaurants and attractions. You’d think a space that size in the frigid Midwest would need a lot of heat– but it doesn’t. How do they keep the temperature a comfy 70-degrees, year-round?

What Heats the Mall?

The common areas are heated in three ways:

1. Solar Radiation (Skylights)

This passive solar energy comes from 1.2 miles of skylights that run primarily above Nickelodeon Universe® (the amusement park in the middle of the mall). Think of it as a giant greenhouse!

2. Lighting Fixture Heat

The fixtures from stores and common spaces generates extra heat. What some consider as a waste of energy, the mall uses as an important source to heat the building as a whole.

3. People

More than 40 million visitors generate a lot of body heat! Sometimes, they generate so much heat that the air conditioning system actually needs to kick in during the busy holiday shopping season (which is the dead of winter!).

Despite Minnesota's cold winters, only the mall's entrances and some underground areas are heated. Although the common areas are unheated, individual stores do have heating systems, if needed.

Environmentally Friendly Features

Mall of America was very intentional when it was built to be as environmentally friendly as possible. And as the Mall goes through changes and expansions, it continues to be an example of a green building. Here are fun ways the Mall of America goes green:

  • More than 30,000 live plants and 300 live trees act as natural air purifiers within the MOA.
  • The MOA converts the fat from restaurant fryers into more than 2 tons of biodiesel per month – enough fuel for a 53-foot semi-truck to travel from New York to Los Angeles five times!
  • This giant mall recycles more than 2,400 tons of food waste to a local hog farm, which feeds more than one million hog meals annually.
  • All lost and found items are donated to Cornerstone, a local organization that offers crisis/trauma-informed support services to help reduce the prevalence of domestic and sexual violence, human trafficking and general crime.
The next time you visit Mall of America, consider just how ‘cool’ it is that a space that huge can maintain a comfortable temperature without any formal heating system. It’s pretty amazing!

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