Focus on specialty structures: Sustainability

Sports arenas, historical buildings, theaters and other specialty buildings require unique energy efficiency engineering design

By Consulting-Specifying Engineer August 20, 2019


Wayne E. Allred, PE, LEED AP 

Principal/Regional Director 

TLC Engineering Solutions 

Orlando, Florida 

Allred brings 30 years of electrical engineering experience to his position as Principal and Regional Director of the company’s Orlando unit. His career choice was inspired by growing up on Florida’s space coast, watching Saturn V rocket launches and other events.  


Scott Foster, PE, LEED AP 

Managing Principal 

Affiliated Engineers Inc. 


Foster joined AEI in 2007 and now serves as managing principal. He was a 2016 Consulting-Specifying Engineer 40 Under 40 award winner. 


Kevin Lewis, PE, LEED AP BD+C 

Senior Vice President/Venue Practice Director 

Henderson Engineers 

Lenexa, Kansas 

As Senior Vice President/Venue Practice Director, Lewis has managed the design of more than a dozen LEED-certified sports projects. Before joining the company, he received collegiate scholarships for baseball and track. 


Robert V. Hedman, PE, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, Fitwel Amb. 


Kohler Ronan LLC 

Danbury, Connecticut 

As principal, Hedman serves as co-head of the mechanical department, oversees staff and managers numerous large projects. He focuses on coordination between disciplines and systems integration with architectural and structural design components. 

CSE: What level of performance are you being asked to achieve, such as WELL Building Standards, U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification, net zero energy, Passive House or other guidelines?  

Lewis: The Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California — home of the Sacramento Kings — is a venue unlike any other in the NBA. It’s the first entirely solar-powered arena and practice facility in the world. It’s also the first LEED Platinum arena in the world. And it’s the first American arena to have an underseat air distribution system, which was designed by the Henderson Engineers team. To top off the trailblazing, the innovative design delivers an overall 15% energy savings beyond California Title 24 

In collaboration with AECOM, our goal for the design was to orchestrate a unique and memorable fan experience. We emphasized advanced technology throughout including a 4K videoboard, wireless connectivity and an individualized app for fans to use during games. Other key components of this 17,500-seat arena include new locker room facilities, practice courts, suites, restaurant/clubs, concessions, restrooms, administrative offices, retail, press and media facilities, central plant and parking garage. We were proud to lead the building systems and technology design for this landmark project. To date, the arena has exceeded all anticipated patron counts and continues to win prestigious industry honors. 

Foster: We continue to see LEED certification  typically Gold  in the upper Midwest. We haven’t come across WELL or other standards being discussed for these project types. 

CSE: What unusual systems or features are being requested to make their specialty projects more energy efficient? 

Foster: We have explored the use of the sanitary system as a heat source or heat rejection source using a cleaning system, heat exchanger and heat pumps.  

Lewis: We have put a lot of thought in the best way to deliver air in largevolume, highcapacity venues. In general, we’ve found that delivering the air where the people are makes the most sense. This air delivery provides the best patron comfort, minimizes large overhead ductwork and allows for a more efficient system that uses warmer leaving air temperatures and creates a cleaner breathing zone.  

CSE: What types of sustainable features or concerns might you encounter for these buildings that you wouldn’t on other projects? 

Hedman: Most of our projects are using the LEED standard to obtain certification or as guidelines as an owner’s project requirement. Theaters have a large occupancy with extensive water use for toilets and sinks before and after performances. Waterless urinals are more frequently used as the potential for water savings is greater for this occupancy type. 

CSE: What types of renewable or alternative energy systems have you recently specified to provide power?  

Hedman: We have designed many renewable systems from photovoltaics to cogeneration. First cost, space requirements and general understanding of how the equipment operates from a facility management standpoint is always a challenge. Educating the client on how these systems work and what is required to maintain them is important.  

Foster: We have been involved in the design of higher ed athletic facilities that are required to have PV installed as part of achieving the sustainability goals of the university. The challenge resided in understanding the priorities of the university’s project management, sustainability and facilities teams, to provide a PV system that is optimally sized to fit within a physical constraint on the roof while providing the access required to effectively maintain the system. 

Lewis: Many of our venue projects have some type of renewable energy in the base design. The easiest and most efficient to include to date has been PV systems. With the large amount of land and physical size of the buildings, it is easier to incorporate PV on either the roof, façade or surrounding areas in a capacity that is meaningful to the overall project.  

CSE: What are some of the challenges or issues when designing for water use in such facilities?  

Hedman: Dealing with the sudden peak of occupants using the toilets either prior of during intermission at a theater is always a challenge.  

CSE: How has the demand for energy recovery technology influenced the design for these kinds of projects? 

Foster: Energy recovery systems typically require more mechanical room space for ductwork, wheels, etc. This creates additional pressure in meeting usable square footage goals of the project. 

CSE: What value-add items are you adding these kinds of facilities to make the buildings perform at a higher and more efficient level? 

Lewis: To squeeze the most energy out of the building possible, we are really focusing in on efficient central plants, including the use of optimization software that holistically looks at all aspects of a central plant and applies an algorithm to consistently run at the highest efficiency. A strong integrated controls approach helps to broaden this goal across the entire building, driving an even more efficient end product.  

CSE: How have energy recovery products evolved to better assist in designing energyefficient specialty projects? 

Hedman: Over the years, the efficiency of energy recovery units has increased making them a wise choice in the pre-treatment of outside air. Using this type of equipment generally reduces the heating and cooling capacity thereby reducing energy costs. 

Foster: Run-around energy recovery systems have made advances in recent years. Typical systems have fairly low efficiencies but with proper coil selections and advanced pumping and controls, these systems can achieve 80effectiveness. This is helpful when outside air and exhaust air streams either can’t mix because of code or are physically separated. 

Consulting-Specifying Engineer