The “how-to” guide on renovating shopping centres launched by CommONEnergy during a high-level event in Brussels

CommONEnergy, a research project funded by the European Union, developed these past 4 years new strategies and solutions to retrofit existing shopping centres to reduce consumptions, increase energy efficiency and comfort. The project, coming soon to an end, presented its landmark publication, Guidelines on how to approach the energy-efficient renovation of shopping centres and awarded innovative shopping centres during a full day event in Brussels.

A shopping centre is a building, or a complex of buildings, designed and built to contain many interconnected activities in different areas. Shopping centres have special peculiarities as they vary in their functions, typologies, forms and size. Within the retail sector, they are of particular interest because of their structural complexity and multi-stakeholders’ decisional process, their high energy savings and carbon emissions reduction potential, as well as their importance and influence in shopping tendencies and lifestyle.

In order to efficiently exploit a shopping centre energy potential, every retrofitting should involve a careful analysis of the building peculiarities in all fields, from the economic features until the socio-cultural ones. The use of building energy simulations can help evaluate the balance between gains and losses and the energy uses and test design options and solution-sets. The CommONEnergy guidelines are a step-by-step handbook for the renovation of shopping centres, resulting from the four years of research of the project. Starting from an analysis of shopping centres’ features and drivers for their renovation, CommONEnergyguidelines go through processes, modelling and tools developed by the project, focusing in particular on the several technology measures enabling the aggregation in cost-effective solution-sets, like greenery integration, multifunctional coating, demand-response approach for refrigeration, and more. The tools described by the guidelines include the Economic Assessment Tool and the Integrated Design Process Library.

The full day event included a training workshop in the morning, presenting all project tools, from continuous commissioning to social and environmental assessment or IDP library, and a final conference in the afternoon. An award ceremony, the Sustainable Building Challenge, closed the event, and a year-long process of identifying and rewarding the best sustainable and energy-efficient European shopping centres. The winning shopping centres were:

  • IKVA Shopping Centre – Sopron – Hungary, in the “Super Malls” Category;
  • CARREFOUR Hypermarket – Nichelino – Torino – Italy, in the “Hyper Malls” Cat
  • CENTROSARCA Shopping Center – Sesto San Giovanni – Milano – Italy, in the “Mega Malls” Category. 


The three projects adopted sustainability principles in refurbishment in a varied and innovative way using different assessment schemes (Breeam, Leed and Protocollo Itaca). These centres demonstrate that transforming shopping centres, icons of a consumerist society, into lighthouses of energy efficient architectures and systems is possible. The SBChallenge competition was managed by iiSBE, the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment, through its European chapter iiSBE Italia.



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