Written by Heather Benjamin

Photo courtesy of USGBC

Photo courtesy of USGBC

Since 2008, when the LEED silver Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., opened and brought major-league baseball back to the district, fans of the Washington Nationals have packed the stands.  Located in Southeast near the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, the 41,546-seat stadium was the first professional sports venue in the nation to gain LEED certification, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

Susan Klumpp Williams, LEED AP, BD+C, a principal at HOK, was the project manager for the joint venture HOK (now Populous)/Devrouax & Purnell that designed the stadium. Anica Landreneau, also LEED AP, BD+C, also worked on the project with Susan—both as the LEED administrators. They faced some unique challenges with the first sports facility built to LEED standards, but made choices that have raised the bar for stadiums of the 21st century.

Working with a new format

LEED does not have a specific subcategory for sports stadiums, so certain credits needed to be adapted from what they might look like for an office building into what they would mean for a large sports park, according to the designers, the USGBC said.

One difficulty the team overcame was that Major League Baseball does not allow irrigation of a field with nonpotable water, so even though a great deal of stormwater is collected by the park, it cannot not be reused for that purpose. Instead, the water is rigorously filtered, cleaned and released into the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.

Light pollution reduction was another credit that offered a challenge, because a sports stadium requires bright field lighting for night games. Using lower-mounted fixtures and high-efficiency field lighting with baffles and shields helped mitigate the effect. There are also overhangs and external shading in the design of the park.

Another requirement that had them momentarily stumped was the need for bicycle racks. “The reviewers said you have to provide for 5 percent of peak demand, so that would have been about 2,000 bike storage spaces,” Landreneau said. “So we turned that around in a credit interpretation that was granted that said that bike storage is a product of service, not consumption,” given the way that stadiums are used and occupied. As a result, they created the popular “bike valet” service—where cyclists can check their bikes as if they were coats, and pick them up at the end of the game. The feature is even being expanded this year, due to popular demand.

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