Green sports facilities set an example for other sites
Fire up, sports fans and FMs, and join the game. Athletics prize and represent good health and obstacles over- come. Let’s apply a similar
outlook to the building arena.
Even if you don’t manage a stadium or own a youth
soccer complex, many efforts at sports facilities can score
big at other sites. Because of the unique intensity, variety,
and occupancy of these venues, you can learn from their
sustainable initiatives. Use the following tips to net a
Snatch Low-Hanging Fruit
From energy and water use to waste disposal, sports
facilities face a number of challenges when greening their
“It’s a huge challenge to make sustainability work at
these places. Arenas aren’t occupied like an office or multi-
family complex. They get a massive influx of people in a
short period of time, and then they sit vacant for days,”
explains Steve D’Iorio, senior vice president at Jones Lang
LaSalle, a firm that offers third-party property manage-
ment. “Sports sites start with what’s feasible.”
The same can be said for commercial buildings. Even if
you only manage a small area that caters to physical activ-
ity – a high school gym, a recreation center, or a pool –
steal a few moves from the pros. Focus on small homeruns
that really add up.
“Easily achieved items include better discipline about
turning things off when they’re not being used and imple-
menting low-cost solutions like aerators on faucets and
weather stripping on doors,” says Scott Jenkins, GM of
the Atlanta Falcons stadium and chairman of the Green
Sports Alliance, a non-profit organization whose mission
is to help sports teams, venues, and leagues enhance their
environmental performance. “Start with a base knowledge
of how you performed in the past and what’s business as
usual. Then think about what you can accomplish with a
new way of doing things.”
A lighting retrofit is an easy measure that can yield
significant savings (For examples of specific strategies, see
Case Study #4).
“There’s a real benefit to switching to new technolo-
gies. With LEDs, you’ve got instant on/off and no time
needed for warming up,” says J. Eric Sullivan, Jr., principal
and executive vice president of third-party firm Sports
Facilities Management. “Features like dimmability allow
you to light up a sporting event for TV and dim them down
for a community dance the next day. That’s a whole new
opportunity that wasn’t available with metal halide or
For additional savings, install sensors and controls to
achieve further reductions, Jenkins recommends. Energy
management and building automation systems will also
keep your savings ticking higher.
“Controls should be your next focus,” D’Iorio explains.
“Pick systems that give you the most amount of flexibility.
They can really help dummy down building operation.”
“Anything you can do to minimize gallons per flush or
implement low-flow technology is huge from an efficiency
standpoint. Water is likely your second highest utility
expense,” Sullivan says.
Another overlooked opportunity is waste disposal.
While landfill fees may not be as high as other operational
costs, the motivation for diversion is reducing your carbon
footprint. Strategies like recycling and composting can get
complex, but again, start by focusing on feasible actions.
“When it comes to source separation and recycling,
most companies will jump in and do whatever they can,”
D’Iorio explains, adding that most measures are as simple
as providing designated bins for recyclable items.
Extensive waste management programs go beyond