SALT LAKE CITY — In some ways, the old downtown malls never went away.

As the towers of the Mormon Church's City Creek Center continue to rise, construction workers are using rebar made from recycled steel.

It's part of City Creek Reserve Inc.'s goal to recycle half of the steel from the old Crossroads and ZCMI Center malls as officials target an LEED silver certification for the massive downtown development.

"The best lesson we've learned is, at the end of the day, it's probably not very much — or any — more expensive," said Bishop H. David Burton, presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In briefing the Salt Lake City Council on the project's progress, Bishop Burton said "good planning" and recycled materials have helped keep the project under budget. Officials have not disclosed the cost of the project, though some have estimated the LDS Church will spend as much as $3 billion by the time the center opens in 2012.

The green building efforts happening at City Creek Center often are overlooked, said Councilman S?ren Simonsen. It is part of a message Simonsen said he hopes church leaders might help spread as they help redevelop downtown.

"It's a very important message," the councilman said. "It's a message that's not always connecting with the masses."

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Bishop Burton acknowledged the need for "good stewardship" and said the LDS Church had just recently begun experimenting with "solar meetinghouses." Three such buildings, which would depend primarily on solar power, are under construction, he said.

"In the things we advertise and the things we promote, we could probably be more proactive in that arena," Bishop Burton said. "It's a great story, and we ought to probably promote it more."

City Creek Reserve, a development arm of the LDS Church, also will recycle much of the concrete from the demolished malls, officials said.

Improved restroom fixtures and lighting also will be important pieces in the push to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design accreditation.