It's big. It's green. Will it fly? The Pyramid Cos.' planned DestiNY USA, scheduled to open near Syracuse, N.Y., in the summer of 2004, has been billed as the world's largest green commercial endeavor.

Expected to attract 30 million visitors annually, the new $1.3 billion DestiNY USA will feature 6 million sq. ft. of retail (including expansion of the 1.6 million sq. ft. existing Carousel Center); more than 500 world-class retailers; a major tourism and visitors center; 4,000 hotel rooms; and several entertainment and sports venues including a 65-acre indoor park — and all of it “green.”

But is it for real? Similar projects in the past have offered lofty visions in the planning stages, only to fall short of their goals. Not this time, insists John Picard, a principal in the Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based environmental consulting firm E2.

“[Pyramid Cos. founder Robert] Congel actually came to me and said, ‘How can we do it?’” recalls Picard. “He won't take no for an answer.” Picard believes that Congel is approaching DestiNY USA as a ‘legacy project.’“He's looking to leave his mark.”

Among the technologies Pyramid is considering are solar power, eco-friendly water treatment and recycling systems, thermal power, methane power, composting, energy-efficient fuels and materials recycling.

The focal point of the project, for visitors will likely be the dome-covered park, which will make the upstate New York location a year-round paradise. It will also be the project's most environmentally ambitious component.

“Essentially, we will take control of every opportunity for people to enjoy themselves in the middle of winter, but at the same time capture energy and environmental opportunities,” says Rick Fedrizzi, founder of the U.S. Green Building Council and president of Green-Think, an environmental marketing firm and consultant to DestiNY USA. “There's tremendous daylight, photovoltaic opportunities to capture sunlight, there have been a series of discussions of wind-farm activity, and [solar] fuel cells that will be an inherent part of the project.”

The goal, he explains, is to not use fossil fuels. “The entire parking garage will be lit by energy harnessed from the sun,” says Fedrizzi. “We will purchase or build a wind farm nearby.”

What makes this project different, he explains, is that it will have an opportunity to evolve. “This time, they decided not to incorporate terminal design into retail,” he says. “This is more of a living breathing, organic design.”

Steve Lewis is an Atlanta-based writer.