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Building green sport facilities

This is an excerpt from Managing Sport Facilities, Second Edition, by Gil Fried, JD.

Green Buildings

Whether the issue is conserving energy or recycling building products, conservation has become a major concern for new facilities. A key for new facilities is their ability to minimize waste. From reducing the amount of wasted energy to building with sustainable materials, constructing more efficient facilities is a sound and correct decision. When Qualcomm Stadium hosted Super Bowl XXXII, the 68,000 fans in attendance generated approximately 70 tons of trash. The numerous games, tailgate parties, and other activities associated with major sporting events generate an enormous amount of waste each year. American buildings consume 30% of the nation’s total energy and 60% of all electricity used (McCarron, 2001). The process of creating energy-efficient buildings is called green design. Green design should be analyzed in the facility planning process and in the actual design process discussed in chapters 4 and 5. However, even if a building is designed with conservation in mind, the facility may not accomplish this goal if it is not constructed properly.

The best-designed building will not work well if the materials are not efficient or not properly connected to reduce air loss. Green design considers the building design, site, region, building envelope, construction materials, building systems, and other variables. Through life-cycle costing of materials or initial costs, maintenance costs, and finally replacement costs, a facility or its components can be examined to determine if they are operating efficiently and conserving energy. Green facilities typically cost more to build, but in the long run their maintenance and energy usage costs more than make up for the higher starting price (McCarron, 2001). Facilities being built to comply with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) criteria cost 5% to 10% more than other buildings. LEED takes into consideration a facility’s site, water, energy, air, and materials. It is hoped that LEED-compliant facilities will be environmentally friendly and, in the long run, reduce facility operational costs.

All the LEED variables affect the construction process. For example, the site criterion is affected by local environmental conditions. If care is to be taken to avoid harm to adjoining land, the construction process may need to be significantly altered. Chapter 7 highlights the money-saving options in various lighting systems. If energy-efficient lighting systems are installed from the beginning, subsequent costs to convert a system can be eliminated, and energy efficiency can be reached right away. Additional building considerations include cogeneration. Cogeneration involves analyzing the combined heat and power produced at a power plant. Most power plants convert only 35% of the fuel into electrical energy. An additional 8% of the electricity is lost during transmission, and the rest of the energy produced during the conversion process is heat energy released into the environment (McCarron, 2001). A green facility would be designed so that the power plant is near a pool or other area that could use the heat energy to reduce heating costs. If the plant is closer to the area that will use the electricity, then less electricity will be lost in the transmission process.

Building materials play a major role in energy conservation. Insulation and vapor barriers help reduce HVAC needs but do not address air circulation since air is trapped in a building. Exterior color can also have a significant impact. Facilities in the south are often built with light-colored or reflective materials to reflect heat, which reduces cooling demands during the summer. Walls can also be designed to collect sunlight during the winter and then reradiate the heat throughout a facility. The roof can even be used as either recreation areas or rooftop gardens. Although numerous materials are available for constructing a building, and many are now made with recycled products, there can be potential health concerns. Chapter 7 highlights some of the air quality issues that can occur with any facility, including green facilities. Green-related sport efforts are gaining in popularity and frequency. Every facility manager needs to seriously examine the issues, from gray (reclaimed) water usage to the facility’s carbon footprint, because customers and government officials will start demanding accountability.

One key component of green building is reducing trash during the construction process. The average new construction project generates 3.9 pounds (1.8 kg) of waste for every square foot (0.09 sq m) built. Thus, if a 50,000-square-foot (4,645 sq m) building is being considered, the builder can expect to generate 97.5 tons of waste (Monroe, 2008). With plastic, aluminum, and tires taking on average 300 years to decompose, it is critical to reduce the waste generated during the construction process. The owner, architect, contractors, and construction manager need to be on the same page before a project starts and follow a detailed waste reduction plan to minimize construction waste.

Learn more about Managing Sport Facilities, Second Edition.

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