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Guest Blog | HOK’s Chris DeVolder on the Intersection of Sustainable Design, Resilience and Sports

Guest Interview with Chris DeVolder
HOK

Photo Credit: HOK

Mercedes-Benz Stadium / Photo Credit: HOK

Chris DeVolder, AIA, LEED AP, WELL AP, is the managing principal of HOK’s Kansas City office. As the sustainable design leader for the Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice and co-chair of both the Green Sports Alliance Corporate Membership Network Steering Committee and the USGBC’s LEED User Group for sports venues, he has helped reinvent the industry’s approach to the planning, design, construction and operations of sports venues. Here Chris shares his ideas about designing these community pillars for sustainability and resilience.

How did you get interested in sustainable design?

Chris DeVolder (CD): Twenty years ago I was playing drums in a band made up of Kansas City architects. The lead singer was passionate about sustainability and was working on a sustainably designed residence for a client in his free time. He asked if I’d be interested in helping with his project. That moment changed my career. He gave me a copy of “The Sacred Balance” by David Suzuki that, coupled with his mentorship, fueled my passion for sustainable design.

You have dedicated your career to designing sustainable college and professional sports facilities. How has sustainable design in sports evolved?

CD: Three things were happening when sustainability made a splash on the sports scene. First, jurisdictions and campuses had begun to require LEED certification for new buildings. Second, there was an influx of organic, student-driven movements around campus recycling that athletic departments supported. Third, operators of these massive sports facilities began to look at their rising water and energy consumption and felt motivated to change.

About this time the Green Sports Alliance was founded. At the organization’s first conference in 2010, most presentations were case studies of buildings that had upgraded their water and energy efficiency. We’ve come a long way.

Today’s proactive owners and operators are seeking innovative strategies around community, food and renewable energy. Sustainability was once a completely cost-driven decision for owners and operators. Now there’s also a moral component. Our clients have a better understanding of opportunities to use these facilities to support campuses, neighborhoods and cities.

Why is sustainability in sports so important?

CD: Our stadiums, ballparks and arenas are highly visible buildings that are accessible to the entire community. They provide an incredible opportunity to teach people about sustainable design. The first thing many of us do every morning is check sports headlines and scores. With our unwavering loyalty to teams and universities, sports has a unique platform to communicate sustainability and change behavior.

How does this visibility affect your approach to design?

CD: We encourage clients to think about sustainability as it relates to design, operations and messaging. There are so many potential touchpoints in a one million-square-foot building. Our clients can use their new canvas to communicate messages about energy efficiency, water conservation, recycling and more. I always laugh thinking about the signs in the bathrooms at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia telling fans to “recycle beer here.”

We encourage clients to find strategic partnerships that support their broader sustainability goals. For example, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which achieved LEED Platinum, partnered with Georgia Power to integrate more than 4,000 solar PV panels. Every year they generate enough energy to power nine Atlanta Falcons games and 13 Atlanta United matches.

Read the full interview on HOK’s website.

Atlanta to Host Green Sports Alliance 2018 Summit

PanStadia & Arena Management

Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

The Green Sports Alliance will hold the 8th annual Green Sports Alliance Summit at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta from June 26-27, 2018.

And the Alliance has also announced that the 9th annual Summit will be held in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field in June 2019.

The Summit brings together hundreds of leaders from professional sports teams, collegiate programmes, venue management companies, and other pioneers in environmental stewardship to exchange the latest thinking around greening the sports industry and engaging fans.

Scott Jenkins, general manager, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and board chair of the Green Sports Alliance said:

As the first professional sports stadium in the US to be awarded LEED Platinum certification, Mercedes-Benz Stadium has been at the forefront of innovation in sustainability efforts. We look forward to welcoming like-minded thought leaders in the industry to help further the sports sustainability movement.

Touting the most LEED points earned to date for a sports venue in the world, Mercedes-Benz Stadium will serve as an apropos location for the Summit.

The stadium utilises renewable energy, has a stormwater recapture and storage system, and boasts 82,500ft2 of efficient LED lighting.

The stadium and home teams, the Falcons and United FC, are dedicated to their community and participate in food recovery and donation programmes, partner with Trees Atlanta to share captured rainwater for tree irrigation, and participate in the Novelis Recycle for Good programme collecting aluminum cans to fund Habitat for Humanity home builds.

Justin Zeulner, executive director of the Green Sports Alliance said:

“We are honoured and excited to host our 2018 Summit in the great city of Atlanta, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Falcons and United FC are leaders in environmental stewardship and it’s incredible to see members of the Green Sports Alliance take sustainability in the sports industry to new heights with their innovative environmental solutions and dedication to the well-being of their community.

Arthur Blank’s commitment to ‘do the right thing’ for Atlanta is exemplified in this stadium and its operations.”

The theme for this year’s Summit is “PLAY GREENER: Get in the Game” and will focus on taking action that encourages collaborative problem-solving to achieve sustainable change across the sports spectrum.

Read the full story at PanStadia & Arena Management.

Read the press release.

NFL’s Super Challenge: Recycling Food Wrappers and Beer Cups From 60,000 Fans

Star Tribune
By 

From blinking cups to purses, NFL, stadium aim for maximum recycling. 

2018.01.24-NFLRecycling-IMAGE

Heidi Riley dumped plastic into a recycling bin after a game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Photo Credit: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

They have finally found a home for the purses.

Whether it was a Fendi shoulder sling or a Trader Joe’s tote, the thousands of bags that Vikings fans have relinquished at U.S. Bank Stadium security gates during the past two years wound up in a landfill or incinerator.

But in the drive to score what the NFL and stadium officials hope will be the first zero-waste Super Bowl — and launch the first zero-waste football stadium — those fans can now donate their bags to the women’s nonprofit Dress for Success.

That’s one of the more novel solutions the stadium has adopted in its effort to dramatically increase the amount of gameday trash that is put to good use through recycling or composting.

“There are Coach purses — our women are ecstatic,” said Stephanie Silvers, executive director of Dress for Success, which provides financial education and job-hunting support for 1,000 women a year

It’s taken awhile to get to this point, stadium and NFL officials acknowledge. A year ago, the stadium was recycling 20 percent of the garbage that left the stadium after every game and event — up to 40 tons in total — mostly food waste and non-recyclable containers. And those purses.

Now “we are well down the path,” said Mike Vekich, chairman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.

But getting there took a lot of work.

In the last year, the food vendors have all switched to compostable containers. The stadium purchased some 375 clearly marked, $1,500 single and triple compartmented bins, which now stand like sentinels along the concourses and in all the suites. Then there are three massive compactors in the bowels of the building to compress each type of waste before it’s loaded into waiting trucks.

The stadium management firm, SMG, has hired a sustainability manager, arranged to donate all unopened food from the kitchens to food shelves, and contracted to deliver recyclables and organics to the Hennepin County Recycling and Transfer Station in Brooklyn Park and a composting facility in Rosemount.

“It’s an unbelievably large operation,” said Paul Kroening, Hennepin County’s supervising environmentalist. “It takes a lot to feed 50 or 60 thousand people.”

And now, with Super Bowl LII just weeks away, U.S. Bank Stadium is ready for its oh-so-green debut.

Read the full story.

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SPORTS MEMBERS INCLUDE...
405
TOTAL SPORTS MEMBERS
194
TEAMS
195
VENUES
16
LEAGUES