Stadium Design Sustainability
November 4, 2015
The phrase “green architecture” refers to the use of environmentally aware, sustainable architectural and construction methods. Today’s stadiums and arenas are often designed with a full embrace of this concept. Many professional sports organizations have publicly committed to the use of sustainable practices in the construction and utilization of arenas and other venues that they use.
Green and sustainable stadium and arena design and construction often focuses on a number of definable objectives:
- Reduced water consumption
- Greater energy efficiency
- Sustainable energy production
- Waste management
- Reduction in the facility’s carbon footprint
These objectives are relevant during construction and as the venue is operated over the long-term. For example, even the means of transporting construction materials and heavy equipment to the site may be considered in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the project.
Some may assume that the cost of environmentally-conscious design may be prohibitive. However, advances in green technology often make such an assumption incorrect. In today’s world, developers need to be aware of evolving technologies and techniques that are more environmentally friendly, They also need to understand that green design and construction may be appreciated or even expected by both the public and by public servants.
Therefore, project managers should incorporate the latest sustainable concepts into all aspects of the new stadium or arena. Proper research into ever-evolving green construction techniques will allow developers to take fully advantage of new technologies. At times, more conscientious effort is required to effectively incorporate sustainable methods into the project. Initial expenses early-on may lead to long-term savings and an enhanced public image.
From the outset, the design team should seek to pursue initiatives and concepts that:
- Reduce energy consumption of all kinds
- Reduce carbon emissions and all other emissions
- Encourage local energy generation
- Reduce waste of all kinds
- Encourage recycling wherever possible
Again, one should not underestimate the potential for direct savings and reduced overhead over the life of the facility. This reality can prove to be very beneficial for the the operator of the venue, whether the operator be public or private.
In the United States, LEED certification is increasingly desirable to project developers and venue operators alike. LEED certification specifies exacting standards that must be met. A successful effort results in a certification that communicates to everyone that the facility has been designed and operated with green concepts and principles at the forefront. In Europe, BREEAM certification is available to projects that are in compliance.
Oftentimes, professional sports organizations and even amateur governing bodies encourage the acquisition of such certifications as a matter of policy. Developers need to be fully aware from the outset of the environmental expectations of these organizations, as well as the expectations of local governments and the public. Then, consultants, designers and architects can work toward a common environmentral goal from the start.
Sustainability: Active and Passive Approaches
There are varied means by which sustainability goals may be achieved. Some are simply integral to good planning and design, while others employ technology to conserve energy and promote the sustainable use of resources.
Passive measures – Many passive means of achieving green goals are readily available to urban planners, project architects and others. These design ideas do not require the deployment of either technological or mechanical methods to be effective.
Examples of passive methods include shading areas from the sun through the use of screens or the special positioning of buildings, the deployment of cooling towers, the construction of thicker walls or the use of grass roofs. Once these things are done, they continue to save energy without the use of any added technology.
Active measures – Sustainability can also be promoted through the use of specific technological or mechanical systems to save energy by cooling and/or heating a structure more efficiently. Historically, energy-efficient systems have come with higher capital costs, but they have generated operational savings through lower energy cost. In turn, such systems have often successfully reduced the carbon footprint of a given facility.
Key Sustainability Concepts
Again, the maximization of sustainability benefits requires attention to solid concepts from the start. A stated emphasis on energy conservation, green architecture and sustainability should be a guiding principle from day one when a new entertainment or sports venue is being designed. Broadly speaking, concepts regarding sustainability in venue design are categorized under the headings of water, energy, materials and waste management.
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