Thursday, March 9, 2017

Venues Around the World Embrace LEED

The USGBC's LEED in Motion: Venues showcases the impact
of eco-conscious design. Above: The Virginia Beach Convention Center is
LEED Gold Certified; the facility reduced electricity consumption by 6% - an
equivalent to taking 30 homes off the grid for a year. 

This month, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) published an interactive newsletter on green building principles applied to venues. LEED In Motion: Venues highlights sports complexes, convention centers, community centers and concert halls around the world pursuing LEED certification. Through innovative design, these venues reduce waste and environmental impact.

Part of the focus on LEED certified venues is due to the impact venues have in communities. Environmentally, venues can be a huge source of waste due to the billions of visitors busy venues can see annually. According to the article, Waste Management estimated that the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL sport complexes generate a combined 35,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide; the convention and trade show industry contributes and estimated 60,000 tons of garbage each year. Even small steps in minimizing waste from public facilities can have an impact on environmental health.

One such venue focused on LEED principles is the Allstream Centre in Toronto, Canada. The convention center is Canada's first LEED Silver certified conference center, and generates 100% of its power from renewable resources. The center, which attracts more than 5 million visitors each year, also has a 30-story wind turbine that produces 1 million kilowatt hours of clean energy per year.

Another building, the Los Angeles Convention Center, became the largest convention center in the US to achieve LEED Gold recertification. The center has saves 470,000 gallons of water each year through water efficiency projects such as their waterless urinals, low-flow toilets and sprawling lawn outfitted with drought-tolerant, ecologically-sensible vegetation.

LEED certified venues also seek to create multi-use facilities. Beyond reducing waste, multi-use facilities reduce cost. For example, the former Beijing Olympic Village was part of a $44 billion investment to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. Now, the LEED gold certified village is a residential area with apartments, restaurants, a library and a gym. Through innovative stormwater treatment and collection planning, the complex has been able to reduce water use by 40%.

Indeed, the economic development from LEED certified venues is as attractive as the environmental sustainability. Through reduced operation costs, businesses are saving money; the international demand for LEED projects is part of the 3.3 million jobs in green construction projected for 2018.

"Our ultimate goal is to lead by example in changing the perception that venues are not environmentally conscious while inspiring sustainable practice in our community," Jackie Ventura, Operations Coordinator of the Miami HEAT, said in the newsletter. The Miami Heat's home stadium became the first NBA facility to earn a LEED Building Operations and Maintenance certification, as well as the first sports facility in the world to earn a LEED Gold recertification.

LEED certified venues are an exciting avenue of sustainability. More than a design trend, environmentally conscious projects simply make sense.

To read the feature, visit USGBC's publication. To learn more about LEED certification, visit Zack Academy's LEED homepage.

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