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Posted on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Briarwood Mall following Ann Arbor and national retail trend by going green

By Ben Freed


Briarwood's new entrances will have automatic doors, which can also help save energy by improving the building's temperature stability.

Courtesy photo

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 renovation

The renovation of Briarwood Mall, which was expected to start Thursday and conclude by the end of October, will include the following:

  • New signs and lighting
  • New entrances with automatic entry doors
  • Energy efficiency upgrades, including LED lighting
  • Fresh paint and improved flooring
  • Renovated restrooms and corridors
  • Revamped children's play area in the Von Maur wing
  • Additional seating in center court with Wi-Fi and lounge-style furniture
  • Overhead architectural changes
“It really helps us be in line with the values of the community that we’re in,” said director of marketing and business development Denise Murray. “For us to be the No. 1 taxpayer in the city and taking the lead in making these improvements, it sends the right message.”

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.

Over the past two years, the Ann Arbor municipal center and car dealerships such as Dunning Toyota and LaFontaine Chevrolet in Dexter have all included LEED certification in their building plans.

“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.


Meijer put wind turbines on the roofs of two stores near Lake Michigan. A spokesman said the turbines do not produce much power yet, but are a step toward further green innovation.

Kristin Eberts | Muskegon Chronicle

“It’s a win-win for the retail tenants we have,” mall manager Ida Hendrix said.

“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.”

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:18 a.m.

Are those albino people and trees in the "photo" creepy or is it just me?


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

Ghosts of shoppers past...


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

Steve Bean, Thank you for someone finally looking into induction lighting. I do not agree that the light quality is inferior without qualifying what "inferior" means. By all means, there are applications where induction lighting is not your best choice. However, for true color reproduction and visual acuity, it is superior to other technologies, including LEDs. It is closer to natural sunlight than are the others. If you need to focus light on a specific area, LED is superior, or if you need to illuminate from a distance LED (and others) are superior (such as lighting at a football stadium). For parking lots, for car dealerships, for "soft" lighting in an office or mall setting, for gymnasiums, if one does his/her homework and makes the comparison, induction lighting should be the choice. And environmentally speaking, induction lighting is the green choice.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

The greenest approach is to do no renovation. Sure, go ahead and do the lighting and HVAC upgrades that lead to energy efficiency.

Steve Bean

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

Does Briarwood leave lights on (inside or out) all night? That's an area where we could use a community leader who's willing to make the effort/investment to stop wasting energy.

average joe

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

I guess I don't understand how one can conserve electricity when you go from manually operated doors to automatic (electric) doors.

Steve Bean

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

That would be an example of Jevons' Paradox in action. The pitfall is in conflating efficiency and conservation.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 5:39 p.m.

Raze the whole thing and start over again


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

Best Green of all, Amazon and Ebay.

Steve Bean

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 5:05 p.m.

One question that arises is what will be done with the savings? Typically, a phenomenon called Jevons' Paradox comes into play, where the savings from increased energy efficiency are spent on other products/activities that then use more energy, thereby negating the energy savings. If Briarwood doesn't have plans to install solar panels or purchase renewable energy credits with the savings, this is only about money (including indirectly through PR like this article). The term "sustainable" doesn't apply. I understand what the mayor is saying about not thinking about renewables until addressing energy efficiency, but without a followthrough to renewable energy supplies, these are only half measures. That's not an argument against this move. It makes complete sense. However, advertising it as something more than it is breeds complacency.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 6:02 p.m.

Three comments -- can someone prove to me that solar panels make sense in Great Lakes States where the sunshine is at best an "iffy" proposition? They are very expensive and do need the very thing that gives rise to the word "solar"! Second, if they have efficiency savings as well as generate renewable energy (wind, solar, whatever), they can sell the energy credits, not purchase them. They would only need to purchase energy credits if their efficiency savings and renewables did not meet some objective they have laid out. Third -- if the mayor is not ready to address renewable energy until he addresses energy efficiency, where is the discussion of induction lighting vs LED lighting. Yes, LED will get you potentially a lot, but induction lighting will get you even more.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

Panels on the roof is a good idea. Also, LED outside and parking lot lighting should also be included in this retrofit. But this time, let's see a local area contractor and his employees who patronize this establishment get some of the work.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 5:56 p.m.

Parking lot lighting is one of the places where Induction Lighting wins hands down. I wish people would really take a look and compare LED and Induction lighting -- if they did, they almost certainly would move toward much greater use of induction technology. It amazes me how no one else is pushing this less costly and greener solution. LED PR has certainly done its job, apparently!

Dirty Mouth

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

Place solar panels on the roof for the Mall's heating and cooling needs.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

I have said it before and I'll say it again -- there is a better, less costly and greener alternative to LED lighting. It is magnetic induction lighting. The LED industry has done a beautiful job selling itself, but if people are really interested in the best solution, it is not LED. Go on line and investigate induction lighting. It has many advantages beside cost over LED. Why did the city of San Diego, CA go to induction lighting vs LED? After a major study, they deemed it be the most cost effective solution.

Steve Bean

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

From an article I found on San Diego's installations, they used both LEDs and induction luminaires in different places. Induction are apparently lower priced and have a longer guaranteed life (10 years vs. 5 years for LED) but the light quality is inferior. They're used for street lighting purposes.

A A Resident

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Yup, hemp. Wasn't there already a pilot project at Meijer?

Dog Guy

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

Will the roof area be used for electrical power generation with our federal tax dollars or be planted to native Michigan grasses with our greenbelt tax dollars?

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

How about they grow hemp on the roof. Then make hemp clothing, hemp paper, hemp oil, hemp soap...the list could go on & on. Hemp has WAY more usage than lawn grass

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

A little bit of green paint & now I'm "Green"

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

You must be a PAID for spokesperson

Denise J. Murray

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.

This is equivalent to one of the following: • Annual greenhouse gas emissions from 47.4 passenger vehicles; • CO2 emissions from 25,509 gallons of gasoline consumed; • CO2 emissions from 529 barrels of oil consumed; • CO2 emissions from 3 tanker trucks' worth of gasoline; • CO2 emissions from the electricity use of 34.1 homes for one year; • CO2 emissions from the energy use of 11.7 homes for one year; • Carbon sequestered by 5,834 tree seedlings grown for 10 years; • Carbon sequestered annually by 187 acres of U.S. forests; • Carbon sequestered annually by 1.8 acres of U.S. forest preserved from conversion to cropland; • CO2 emissions from 9,481 propane cylinders used for home barbeques; • CO2 emissions from burning 0.978 railcars' worth of coal; • Greenhouse gas emissions avoided by recycling 85.2 tons of waste instead of sending it to the landfill; • Annual CO2 emissions of 0.0001 coal fired power plants; Source: Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator | Clean Energy | US EPA[2/20/2013 2:45:02 PM]

Sandra Samons

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

Save the birds who live there!

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.



Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

The gulls or the Canada geese?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.


Steve Bean

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

There's nothing sustainable about reducing electric use through new technology "to promote their brand and boost their bottom line" while thousands of cars burn millions of gallons of fossil fuel to get to and from there.

Denise J. Murray

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

It will be very pretty lipstick, with sustainability. Saving money and improving the environment. And the lighting has a lot of cool features.

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

It better be eco friendly lipstick, vegan friendly lipstick, or animal friendly lipstick or you're in big trouble buddy


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

On a kiosk pig!


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

I've ridden my bike to the mall dozens of times. It would be nice to have some legitimate bike parking near the entrances. Briarwood is accessible on bike via the wide state street bike lanes to and from town.

Denise J. Murray

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.


Denise J. Murray

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

I will certainly bring this up again. We have discussed this.

Linda Peck

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

Is this being funded through a government program with our tax dollars? Not that I am against the refurbishing and green initiative, but it came to mind.

Ben Freed

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Linda, This is a totally private endeavor. No taxes dollars are being used to our knowledge. Ben


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

"A spokesman said the turbines do not produce much power yet, but are a step toward further green innovation." Dog and Pony show.

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

But it looks good


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

How is something that doesn't work very well a step toward anything?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

what other firms are to be involved in these projects?


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

Why is Briarwood providing jobs to a General Contractor from Atlanta, GA when the Washtenaw County Skilled Building Trades and local General Contractors (Briarwood's customers) are experiencing massive unemployment here at home?

Denise J. Murray

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

VCC is the general contractor.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 11:42 a.m.

As someone with a handicapped family member I am very glad that automatic door entry will be added finally. I thought they were in violation of the Americans with Disabilites Act!!


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

How about increased accessible handicapped parking ?

Denise J. Murray

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

There are automated doors at each entrance; this will certainly make it easier and more accessible.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Aren't there already some automatic doors at Briarwood? I'm pretty sure I remember them at Macy's.


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

I agree! It's tough though when we are up against Republicans! us/despite-doles-wish- gop-rejects-disabilities-treaty.html

Deborah Walker

Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 11:07 a.m.

Sounds great! Please provide charging stations for electric vehicles too!


Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.

And free gasoline for all the other customers!