I just read an article on the NY Daily News website (here) about Target trying out a scaled-down version of their big box store in Seattle. While the main reason for the store shrinkage stated in the article was the need for a smaller footprint to “fit” in an urban core, my mind immediately envisioned all of the energy savings that could be realized with a smaller store. Reduced energy use, of course, also translates into dollar signs on reduced utility bills. I bet that savings is a benefit that has not escaped Wal-Mart, who is also cited in the article as having a smaller concept on the drawing boards.
The article, and its failure to mention the potential energy and cost savings of a smaller building, made me think about how often building less square footage, or only the amount of space you absolutely need, is overlooked as a sustainable design strategy. For one thing, building size is not a factor in any of the LEED Rating Systems except for LEED for Homes, where the number of points your project can earn is established based on the square footage of your project in comparison to national averages. If you think about it, though, the quickest way to reduce your heating, cooling and lighting bills is to simply reduce the amount of space you are heating, cooling and lighting. Maybe this is the start of a trend; maybe Americans can start rethinking their “bigger is better” mentality and realize that small can definitely equal savings.