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New Stadium Prospectus – Design: “LEED” rather than follow

Author: Lance Sabo | Pat 4 of 6

Recently, there have been many new stadium proposals at various sites around the region. All would require a substantial investment in community infrastructure to support it; the exception being the current site of RWS. Regardless of where the stadium is built, we should invest in the building’s mechanical structure in order to reduce the short and long-term impact on our infrastructure.In short, we should “pay-it-forward” by “going green.”

The concept of going green is not new to the NFL. Most new stadiums, including those that have recently been renovated, have incorporated some form of green technology into their designs. And all teams, including the Bills, have adopted various “green initiatives” into their daily operational practices.

That said, when we build our new stadium, we should take “green” to next level. It has been nearly a century since our community has been considered a forerunner at anything on the national or international stage. This is our opportunity to set a new standard that others will follow. Our stadium and convention center’s design should include all of the latest green technologies, so that we can be recognized as the “BEST” in terms of stadium construction.

The “LEED,” or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design program, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. It provides the standard by which most green buildings are measured. LEED evaluates projects on how green technologies and materials are incorporated into construction, as well as, how they will affect day-to-day operations of the structure.

The LEED certification process evaluates both technologies and materials. I have chosen to place a greater emphasis on technologies for this article and less on the materials. The reasons that I have chosen not to dedicate much time to the discussion of green materials are: a) the availability and applications of new products on the market are forever expanding. The newness of these materials often means that there is an insufficient amount of data to perform a creditable evaluation; b) the use of these materials in place of traditional building products often adds considerable cost to the project, which often results in negative monetary return on investment “ROI.”

The new stadium/convention center should incorporate the following green technologies regardless of the future location:

Green-Bills-Buffalo-NY-3–        Solar & Wind technologies: solar panels would cover the roof of the stadium and convention center in its entirety and would also be placed on the southern wall of the structures. Wind turbines would also be place on the rooftops of each structure. The power generated from these systems would supply/supplement power to both the Stadium & Convention Center and all other building associated with project. The estimated ROI for these systems would be 7-10 years based on a similar project that installed on Lincoln Financial Field, home of Philadelphia Eagles that incorporated systems designed by Urban Green Energy, Inc. The Eagles’ system supplies 100% of the power used during game days, 30% from actual power generation and 70% from credits received from the sale of energy produced on non-game days. The Eagles estimate that the system saves them approximately 3 million dollars annually on energy costs.

–        Geo thermal-radiant heating/cooling technologies: would provide the heating and cooling needs for all buildings associated with the Stadium & Convention Center complex. It would also be utilized strategically, based on the size of event, to keep adjoining parking lots free of snow, thus eliminating the need for snow and ice removal. The estimated ROI for this system would be 6-10 years. In addition, because the electricity used to run the system would be supplied by the on-site solar & wind system, the Geo thermal system could be classified as a “Net-Zero” system, meaning, that its operation would not consume energy from off-site sources.

I recently asked Gary Hydock, co-owner/inventor/patent holder of Seneca Radiant Technologies, if a system of this scale would be possible, and if so, would the ROI would be in line with smaller scale systems? His reply, “absolutely, every aspect of your proposed system is already in use on similar sized projects and they are performing well. This would most likely be the first time that they were all coupled together on such a large project, making it truly unique.” He cited Ball State University as a leading example. The Ball State Project heats and cools 47 buildings, totaling 5.5 million square feet space, and it has saved the university $2 million annually while reducing its carbon foot print by half.

–        Rain Water/Grey Water Collection and Treatment System: would collect rainwater and combine it with grey water (waste water) that has been treated on site; this water would then be used for non-drinking and non-hygienic purposes throughout the Stadium/Convention Center complex. Once used, a portion of the waste water would be treated and recirculated in the system; the remainder would be discharged into the municipal waste system. The inclusion of the Rain Water/Grey Water System would reduce the impact on municipal water supply & treatment systems. According to Stuart L. Bailin, Director of Engineering at WAHASO (Water Harvesting Solutions) a company that specializes in the design and production of such systems, “one could expect to realize a return on investment from the system in 3-7 years.”

–        Traditional Methods for Ventilation and Cooling: including the use of operational glass windows on the sides of the buildings. These would provide a sense of connection with exterior environment, by allowing natural light into the stadium. The building would be cooled by cross ventilation when the window are opened. Large fans would be installed to assist with air movement whenever possible to ensure the patrons are comfortable and minimize energy consumption. Similar systems are already in use at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Green-Bills-Buffalo-NY-2Green-Bills-Buffalo-NY–        Parking Areas: should be constructed using water permeable materials and designed to have a runoff containment system to reduce the impact on the environment and the municipal water treatment system. Lighting for these areas would also be solar & wind powered to reduce energy consumption and possibly contribute to the stadium and convention center systems. If all these systems were incorporated into a new stadium and convention center, coupled with a variety of other energy saving practices and devices, the impact on our communities’ infrastructure would be realized immediately. If these systems meet their estimated “ROI” in first 10 years, the savings would equate to 1/3 of stadium’s projected $700 million to $1 billion construction cost over the remaining 30 years of its expected service life.

An additional benefit that could be realized if these eco-friendly systems are included in the construction of these new facilities is that they may qualify for funding/grants from various federal and state government agencies, which would help to subsidize their initial cost. Such as the U.S. Department of Energy; the New York State Department of Energy; the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency; and, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

It would also be reasonable to assume that naming rights of a “first of its kind” green stadium would be a highly sought after commodity, which would command a higher asking price. This additional revenue could be used to help subsidize the stadiums construction costs.

Lead image: Siemens

Also see New Stadium Prospectus: Size Matters – Utility & Versatility | Part 3 0f 6

Lance Sabo is currently a master’s student at Buffalo State College and will complete his master’s degree in economics and finance in the fall of 2014. Serves in the Air Force Reserves at the Niagara Falls Airbase and has been a Federal Civil Servant for 20 years. Contact Lance Sabo | twitter Lance_Sabo


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