Nation’s Largest Mall Expects Big Savings in Lighting Costs


Nation’s Largest Mall Expects Big Savings in Lighting Costs

Mall of America (MOA), which opened in 1992, is the nation’s largest retail and entertainment complex. Located in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, Minn., the 4.2 million-square-foot facility is home to more than 520 shops.
As a facility committed to being eco-friendly, management is always looking for products and programs to help reduce the Mall’s carbon footprint. The Mall’s two nearly identical seven-story parking ramps are a case in point.
Recently, Mall of America examined the lights in a section of these ramps and teamed up with Beta LED to conduct a test project using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) luminaires. These new lights use fewer than 100 watts each, which is less than half the energy of the ramps’ traditional sodium lights.
Since the two ramps have approximately 4,000 lights installed, MOA anticipates savings between $300,000 and $500,000 in electricity costs if all of the lights were changed.
Anna Lewicki Long, MOA spokeswoman, said management is pleased with the project’s initial results. “What we are finding is these lights are extremely bright and illuminate very well. The Mall’s energy costs are being cut in half.”
The project’s luminaires are rated at 105,000 hours – approximately 20 years without needing to be replaced. This is compared with traditional high-pressure sodium lights that are rated to last approximately three years.
MOA will observe the lights throughout the winter to make sure they respond well during Minnesota’s coldest weather. It also wants to make sure the lights provide adequate illumination, as safety is always a concern in a parking ramp.
Environmental benefits are huge, according to Long. “The Mall is designed to be eco-friendly. For example, there isn’t even a heating system in the Mall, which is incredible if you think about it. The body heat of 40 million visitors each year is one of three heating sources. Sunshine from the skylights, which are seven and a half acres of glass, and miles of artificial lights help too. The Mall typically is 72 degrees in the winter.”
These are the types of green initiatives that made the Mall think about the lighting for the parking ramps, Long said.
Exterior lighting has three primary functions – safety, security and ambiance. Some examples where lighting form and function do not always meet are parking garages, walkways, canopies and parking lots. However, with LEDs as the light source, these applications can retain the aesthetic and performance integrity of the property, while offering savings on energy and maintenance.
“Beta LED is pleased to be a part of this test project with the Mall of America, because parking garages provide an excellent platform for LEDs, given the high cost of electricity and the demand for energy-efficient lighting, particularly in applications that operate 24/7.”
The primary advantages of the new LED technology in outdoor applications are energy efficiency and light-source longevity. Orth said these benefits augment the old perception that LED lighting is primarily for aesthetic purposes. LED lighting can have a tremendous impact on the bottom line, especially in commercial applications.
The upfront cost for LED luminaires is going down, providing an excellent return on investment, Orth said. Also, through advances in technology, the efficiency and light output are increasing. The overall the performance of LED luminaires is advancing in efficiency at a rate of approximately 35% annually, with costs decreasing at a rate of 20% annually, according to the Department of Energy.
The opportunities to save energy and improve the bottom line through energy-efficient initiatives, construction design and products such as LED general exterior lighting are as numerous as there are parking facilities, Orth said.

Kevin Orth is National Sales Manager for Beta LED. He may be reached at

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Kevin Orth
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