The Rose Garden Arena has accomplished the greenest retrofit of a sports stadium in the United States, an effort affirmed this week when energy efficiency measures and operational improvements were certified by a rigorous green building program.
The green efforts touch nearly every aspect of the building’s operations. With recycling and food composting, the arena will keep more than 60 percent of its waste from going to landfills. About 30 percent of attendees at Rose Garden events use mass transit or bicycles to get there. The building will buy 100 percent of its electricity and natural gas from renewable sources.
The arena this week was certified LEED Gold, the second highest ranking in the program known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The LEED program has gained popularity since 2000 for use in new office buildings and condominiums, where it has become a new starting point for the most competitive projects.
A handful of sports stadiums have been certified at the lowest levels of the LEED program, but among major league sports facilities, no new buildings or retrofits have reach the gold ranking.
“LEED definitely challenges you to think about things differently and examine your day-to-day operations and maintenance to get to the level that we got,” said Chris Oxley, general manager of the Rose Quarter and Rose Garden. “It really required us to get pretty in-depth on how we’re running the building.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council has encouraged sports leagues to evaluate their environmental impact, in part to make fans more environmentally conscious.
With the real estate bust halting new construction, the LEED program’s certification for building retrofits has gained popularity. Known as LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, the program scrutinizes everything from the cleaning products used by janitors to the site’s accessibility to mass transit.
Oxley wouldn’t say how much the arena spent to become LEED certified or what timeframe the up front costs would produce a return on investment. The arena has spent several years improving its recycling and sourcing of compostable materials, and other green measures, he said.
Achieving the LEED certification required more than a year of study with consultants such as Green Building Services of Portland and the non-profit Energy Trust of Oregon.
The Rose Garden was third-party certified for 62 out of a possible 100 points in the LEED system. A ranking of Platinum requires 80 of 100 points.
Elaine Aye, principal with Portland-based Green Building Services, said greening an arena is very different from similar efforts on office buildings.
“What’s more challenging is you have a really large big-box building and this intense occupancy at very specific times,” she said. “So identifying the energy use in the building is very challenging.”
Energy auditors used an infrared scan of the building to find hard to detect air leaks that could be plugged for additional energy savings, Aye said.
A carbon assessment found the arena generates 20,084 tons of carbon dioxide related emissions a year. That compares with 24-tons a year generated by the average American.
The assessment also found that most of the arena’s carbon footprint comes from motorists driving to and from events — even more than flying an NBA team around the country week to week.
With the Rose Garden, as with many green building projects, most of the energy efficiency measures are things that most visitors probably wouldn’t notice.
A variable-speed motor will use less energy to produce ice for hockey games than an old motor that just turned on or off. Replacing 246 light fixtures in the “event level” of the building — the basement that houses Trail Blazer lockeroom, a kitchen and offices — means that lights will idle at 28 watts instead of 175 or 250 watts.
The arena has plans to improve is bike parking facilities, both in parking garages and in outdoor covered areas.
In uber-green Portland, there’s a community expectation that the Rose Garden should strive for energy efficiency, Oxley said.
“We want to be the most sustainable organization in the sports and entertainment community,” he said. “That’s kind of our mantra around here. This for us was a great step to get there.”
Dylan Rivera, The Oregonian – http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/01/rose_garden_arena_goes_green_w.html