Designing a winning sports venue: Sustainability

Sports and entertainment arenas are more than just seats and a playing field; they are highly complex structures bringing in thousands of fans—and millions of dollars—every year. Sustainability and energy efficiency are key factors.

04/27/2014


Jerry Atienza, EIT Douglas H. Evans, PE, FSFPETodd Mack, PEJeff Sawarynski, PE, LEED AP

  • Jerry Atienza, EIT, Senior plumbing designer, Interface Engineering, Portland, Ore.
  • Douglas H. Evans, PE, FSFPE, Fire protection engineer, Clark County Dept. of, Development Services, Building Division, Las Vegas
  • Todd Mack, PE, Principal, DLR Group, Omaha, Neb.
  • Jeff Sawarynski, PE, LEED AP, Principal, M-E Engineers Inc., Denver, Colo.

 


The LEED Gold certified Consol Energy Center is home to the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins. This M-E Engineers project was the first new NHL arena to achieve LEED certification. Courtesy: M-E Engineers, David Aschkenas photographerCSE: Energy efficiency and sustainability are often the No. 1 request from building owners during new building design. What is your experience in this area?

Sawarynski: I think there is a balance. Owners don’t always have a complete grasp of operational schedules at the start of a project, which can affect actual energy consumption as much or more than stand-alone conservation measures. What owners need from us is a balanced approach that recognizes first cost implications and potential payback for increased capital investments, and provides flexibility for their ever-changing variables.  

CSE: Many aspects of structure sustainability (power, HVAC, maintenance, etc.) require building personnel to follow certain practices to be effective. What, if anything, can you as an engineer do to help increase chances of success in this area?

Sawarynski: Keep things clear and don’t overcomplicate operational procedures. Operators need to be able to make changes to way the building controls function over time. It’s incumbent upon us to give them that flexibility.  

CSE: Could you please share a success story in which you were able to deliver a highly sustainable project to a sports/entertainment client?

Sawarynski: The Miami Marlins ballpark was certified LEED Gold. The energy model predicted more than a 25% energy savings over ASHRAE 90.1-2004. Savings in all systems contributed to this rating, but examples are exterior lighting power reduced by almost 45% and water use efficiency that exceeded code requirements by 52%.

CSE: Please describe your experience with high-performance building projects in the sports/entertainment field.

Sawarynski: We have designed many of the first LEED certified sports projects and many more with substantial energy savings that did not seek certification. Consol Center in Pittsburgh was the first LEED Certified NHL Arena (LEED Gold). Washington Nationals Ballpark was the first LEED Certified MLB park (LEED Silver). Miami Marlins was the first LEED Certified retractable roof ballpark (LEED Gold).



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