The $1.6 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta is the first professional sports stadium in North America to earn LEED Platinum certification. Open since August 2017, the two-million-square-foot, 75,000-seat stadium was designed by HOK, the fifth largest architectural firm in the United States.
Christopher Lamberth, HOK’s vice president of sports, recreation, and entertainment, described some of the facility’s sustainability features: “The systems and fixtures are highly efficient, and meters constantly monitor water and electricity use to determine where they can be even more efficient. LED lighting has been revolutionary in terms of energy efficiency and lifespan. They also installed PV solar, reduce waste, and use environmentally sensitive cleaning products. LEED has changed the paradigm for constructing and operating buildings.”
The Green Sports Alliance, founded in 2011 by professional teams in Seattle and Portland and the Natural Resources Defense Council, testifies to this paradigm shift. With a mission of “leveraging the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities where we live and play,” the 390-member Alliance represents 184 teams, 191 venues, and 15 leagues.
On university campuses, “LEED certification of stadiums and arenas is a big deal,” said Todd Bockenfeld, vice president North Texas District with Albuquerque-based Summit Electric Supply, which recently worked on football stadiums for Baylor, Texas A&M, the University of North Texas, and the Fort Worth Multipurpose Arena. “LEED is important for teams because their ongoing maintenance is reduced when they put in the work up front. It’s important from a publicity standpoint, too. And they think it’s just the right thing to do.”