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Stadiums Aim for Greener Architecture

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The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. It is one of the few football stadiums in the world with retractable roofs.

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. It is one of the few football stadiums in the world with retractable roofs.

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the few football stadiums in the world with retractable roofs. The final phase of the construction of its roof started this past week. The stadium, located in the home of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL), and the Atlanta United FC of the Major League Soccer (MLS), holds the record of the world’s largest halo board.

The unique roof, once completed, will give officials the option to open and close the roof in as quickly as 12 minutes. During this final phase, construction activities will require the roof to be open in a locked position for 10 days to complete elements of the automation process.

The nine-month-old, $1.6-billion stadium has a 20-foot-high gray concrete box underneath an overpass that can hold up to 680,000 gallons of rainwater, collected mostly from the roof of the enormous stadium. The cistern is one of the environmental centerpieces of the building. It is used to irrigate the vegetation around the building, and by storing much of it, flooding will be reduced in the nearby neighborhood. In other words, the 120-foot-long cistern saves money and helps the surrounding area.

The United States Green Building Council, which grades sustainable design and energy efficiency, has bestowed the stadium with the leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) platinum certification — the first stadium to win it. The agency gives points to builders based on features like efficient lighting, air-conditioning and water fixtures. Builders also earn points for locating their structures near public transportation, and for using locally-sourced and recycled materials.

The stadium secured 88 of a potential 110 points, more than enough to receive the top LEED ranking. It’s no surprise that sports arenas and stadiums have a far smaller carbon footprint than many factories, shopping malls, or office buildings. Even though they host thousands of people for big events, most days, they are used for short durations. And in recent years, these centres have become showcases for green design.

Though critics may argue that leagues are wrapping themselves in eco-friendly banners to help market their sports, team owners have learned that environmentally-friendly arenas are cheaper to operate.

Read the full article here.

Hockey in the Desert

By John Schwartz, New York Times

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Monday in Las Vegas. The outside temperature before the game was in the 90s Fahrenheit. Credit: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Monday in Las Vegas. The outside temperature before the game was in the 90s Fahrenheit.
Credit: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

My paradox meter just broke.

Back in February we reported on how global warming was messing up the outdoor skating season in Canada and the northern United States. Now, the Stanley Cup finals are being played in Las Vegas, one of America’s hottest cities.

Doesn’t that mean that hockey is contributing to climate change — and maybe its own demise — by building ice palaces in the desert?

Before you give Las Vegas and the National Hockey League too much side eye, it’s worth noting that the league has been working to address environmental issues, including climate change. It has an ongoing sustainability initiative aimed at minimizing the sport’s damage to the environment, and that initiative includes T-Mobile Arena, home of the Vegas Golden Knights. The city’s leaders, furthermore, have made progress in running the municipal government on renewable energy.

Still. That ice. In the desert. It’s not cheap to make or easy to maintain.

Read the full article here.

From Historic to Cutting Edge: Revitalizing Iconic Buildings

By Scott Elder, National Geographic

The Empire State Building's facelift included its signature lights, now LEDs with millions of color combinations possible. New York is also tackling the energy efficiency of less prominent landmarks, investing nearly $500 million to improve its million-plus buildings—and is the first U.S. city to divest from fossil fuels. PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY HERSHORN, GETTY IMAGES

The Empire State Building’s facelift included its signature lights, now LEDs with millions of color combinations possible. New York is also tackling the energy efficiency of less prominent landmarks, investing nearly $500 million to improve its million-plus buildings—and is the first U.S. city to divest from fossil fuels.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY HERSHORN, GETTY IMAGES

Fenway Park, the Eiffel Tower, Empire State, and other storied structures were upgraded for 21st-century energy efficiency.

The world’s iconic buildings achieve celebrated status because their architecture stands the test of time. But what lies beneath those enduring facades?

Design and engineering evolve quickly, and many urban buildings—nearly half the office space in New York City was built before 1945—predate concepts like sustainability, climate change, and even recycling, resulting in waste and inefficiency.

Enter the retrofit. Aging buildings are updated with new windows, lighting, plumbing fixtures, and heating and cooling systems, ultimately saving owners and operators money while they conserve energy.

Buildings consume 73 percent of the electricity in the U.S., and indirectly create 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions—more than industry or transportation. To win the battle against climate change, cities will need to run on more efficient buildings. (See what makes a “green building.”)

These historic icons blazed a trail for other buildings to follow.

Read the full article here.

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