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The Measurement of Sustainable Sports Buildings

  • iSportConnect
  • June 01, 2012

As members of the construction industry in the developed world, we feel particularly responsible for the environment and as designers or major sports and entertainment buildings, we continually look for ways to approach the construction of buildings sustainably. As my colleague, Senior Principal, Paul Henry explains, clients and stakeholders involved in sports buildings, around the world, have become increasingly interested in credible global measurement systems for sustainability as well.

One of the best regarded has been developed in the US and only relatively recently applied to sports buildings. The LEED_NC (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction) is a rating system that was designed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to guide and distinguish newly constructed high performance buildings that have less of an impact on the environment, are healthier for those who use the building and are more efficient to operate than their conventional counterparts.

Populous has LEED certified projects worth more than $1B in construction value. An examination of the cost value ratio of a number of LEED stadia has revealed that on average achieving LEED certification for major public buildings has added no more than two percent to the overall construction cost. The green costs of three Populous Silver rated stadia, Target Field in Minneapolis, TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, and Nationals Park in Washington DC are each less than one percent of total project costs.

The most recent Populous project to achieve Gold status in the US is Marlins Park, in Miami, Florida, under the design leadership of Populous senior principal Earl Santee. He takes up the story.

“The 37,000 seat MLB ballpark is the first Gold Certified retractable roof facility in the world. The retractable roof shields spectators from the sun and rain, inherently changing the perception of summertime baseball in Florida. The sustainabilitywa strategy was incorporated throughout the design and construction process and included site selection benefits, water use reduction, energy use reduction, an event recycling programme, regionally sourced and recycled content materials, construction waste management and care in the design of healthy interior environments.

“The site chosen for the Marlins Ballpark District, in the Little Havana neighbourhood, has meant multiple transportation options, apart from private vehicles, including a number of bus lines and 319 bike racks. Other successes include landscape design which features native plant species as well as species with lower water demands, achieving a 60% potable water use reduction for irrigation purposes compared with a similar project.

Thoughtful design of the building envelop and heating and cooling systems has also achieved a 22.4% (by cost) energy use reduction when compared against a similar project. “Marlins Park is innovative in multiple ways, especially in its environmental impact. Achieving LEED Gold Certification is a monumental feat, and we hope Marlins Park continues to positively impact its surroundings and its community for years to come,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Australia, The Melbourne and Olympic Parks Western Precinct Redevelopment is aiming to set a new standard for sustainability and is on target to become the first LEED certified sporting facility in the country. The project includes a moving roof and new envelope enclosure of the historic Margaret Court which is the third major competition court for the Australian Open. Water consumption is of utmost importance in Australia, and the project has adopted sustainable strategies to reduce potable water consumption. Enabling works have further provided the infrastructure for rainwater harvesting and treatment facilities which include a 4.5mL storm water retention tank that will capture rainwater from the new proposed roof over Margaret Court. Other sustainable strategies include a reduction in consumption of fossil-fuel based energy and potable water as well as the considerate use of construction materials found within 800 kilometers of the site.

Preliminary calculations demonstrate an overall reduction of 45% in water use against conventional arena design water efficiency measures. The Arena’s proximity to alternative public transportation minimizes the need for onsite parking and sets aside more space for natural areas thereby serving to reinforce the precinct’s unique park setting.

The Margaret Court Arena project is using the LEED rating system so that it can be compared with other similar global venues for ESD measures. We believe this trend will continue as Clients and stakeholders of major buildings like stadia keep looking for ways to ensure their projects are as sustainable as possible.

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