Retail real estate developers have largely avoided adopting green building standards, but a trio of companies — Pyramid Cos., Archon Group L.P. and Forest City Enterprises — are setting examples that the Green Building Council and the Environmental Protection Agency hope others will follow.

Aside from Wal-Mart's “green” store that it opened in McKinney, Texas built with sustainable materials and featuring its own windmill, there has been little precedent for environmentally-friendly retail.

In the course of several weeks, though, several developments emerged. In the most high-profile move, Pyramid reached a Memorandum of Understanding with the EPA to adopt a host of sustainable building techniques in building its Destiny USA project near Syracuse. The proposed project, which has been delayed by wrangling with local officials, would expand Pyramid's Carousel Center into a retail destination larger than the Mall of America.

According to the agreement with the EPA, Pyramid will not only aim to meet Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) standards, but will also take part in the EPA's EnergyStar and WaterSense programs that require the use of energy- and water-efficient appliances. In addition, the company has agreed to retrofit 100 construction vehicles with diesel-particulate filters and use clean fuel, which will reduce emissions at the project by 85 percent. The company will also use 3,000 tons of coal ash in place of new Portland Cement, which will reduce greenhouse gases by 3,000 tons.

Pyramid's news came on the heels of Archon Group L.P.'s 405,000-square-foot Fairlane Green Phase I project in Allen Park, Mich., becoming the first multi-tenant retail project in the United States to receive Gold Level LEED certification. The project, which opened last fall, converted 243 acres of industrial landfill into a power center. Archon master-planned the project to preserve existing wetlands areas and create new retention basins. The basins also filter pollutants from storm water, which is then used to irrigate the project.

“We decided to pursue LEED certification because in our selling phase we went out to Ford [who owned the site] to sell ourselves and quickly learned that certification is very important to them,” says John Maggiore, Archon's national director of development. “When we take this approach to be environmentally sensitive, it helps us to be accepted. Sometimes the developer is considered the evil empire. People don't want to recognize the tax benefits of building a shopping center. But with environmentally sustainable design, they accept you.”

Lastly, Forest City committed to green building by appointing two directors to help make its developments more environmentally-friendly. Jon Ratner will serve as director of sustainability initiatives while Joyce Mihalik will serve as director of energy management.

Ratner formerly served as development project manager for mixed-use, office and multifamily projects at Forest City's Denver Stapleton project, developed on the 4,700-acre site of the former Denver International Airport. Mihalik joins Forest City from The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company's North American operations, where she was energy manager.

Globe Trotting

Taubman Centers Inc. has teamed up with Warner Bros. Pictures to create an interactive snow globe exhibit to promote Warner Bros.' new movie Happy Feet at 17 malls. The display, produced by the Becker Group, will showcase key scenes from the movie and allow guests to interact with life-size sculptures of the film's characters. The experience will feature a 20-foot walk-through snow globes with simulated snow and winds, three six-foot interactive snow globes, a walk-through 28-foot holiday tree and a “green screen,” which will allow children to pose with characters from the film. The exhibit will launch on Nov. 2

GM at the Mall

Simon Property Group has reached an agreement with General Motors making Cadillacs, HUMMERs and Saabs the “Official Vehicles of Town Center,” a Simon project in Boca Raton, Fla. It is the largest regional marketing program for GM's premium brands and the largest automotive partnership that Simon has ever entered into. As part of the program, the mall's valet will be branded as the Cadillac/HUMMER/Saab Valet, which will now be complimentary for all mall patrons arriving in one of those cars. The cars will be showcased throughout the property and GM will place promotional signs on the mall's exterior.

Table Manners

Creatable Media Inc., a provider of custom-designed tables that showcase advertising, has formed a partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor to deliver its products to U.S. mall food courts. Clear Channel, an outdoor advertising company, will serve as the official sales and marketing representative for Creatable Media. Creatable Media's clients include television and motion picture studios, cable channels, department stores and consumer goods manufacturers. Creatable Media currently has expansion contracts to bring the table top advertising into properties owned by General Growth Properties, the Westfield Group and the Macerich Company. “This is another nontraditional out-of-home ad platform for Clear Channel Malls to offer to new and existing advertisers,” says Donna Baker, president of Clear Channel Malls.

Reaching Out

Forest City Enterprises donated $5.7 million to the city of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. to create an 89,000-square-foot cultural arts center at its Victoria Gardens regional shopping center. The new $33.8 million complex features a 90,000-title, full-service library, a 526-seat performing arts center called the Lewis Family Playhouse and a 4,500-square-foot meeting hall that could be used for weddings and executive events. When the community center opened on Aug. 19, visitors flocked to the new attraction at a pace of 1,000 people per hour. In addition to its initial donation, Forest City pledged to contribute another $500,000 over the next five years to assist with the center's continued operations. The playhouse will feature 28 shows and 150 performances this year.