The National Institute of Building Sciences is advising the owners of the nation’s estimated 1,500 professional, college and community sports venues to join in a collective effort to reduce energy and water consumption—and utility bills. But a lack of building performance benchmarking data is getting in the way of progress, says NIBS.
“Collecting benchmarking data represents the biggest challenge by far. … Without it, we cannot drive ahead,” says Ryan M. Colker, adviser to the president of NIBS, which recently released a 66-page study, “Taking the Field: Advancing Energy and Water Efficiency in Sports Venues,” produced for the U.S. Dept. of Energy by NIBS and the Green Sports Alliance.
A successful sustainability strategy must incorporate current performance and set realistic goals for improvement, says the report. Toward this end, NIBS and the alliance are issuing a plea to facility owners to participate in a benchmarking survey on energy and water use. The 100-question survey, open since last summer, needs a few hundred submissions to create a useful database, says Colker. To date, NIBS has received less than 50 forms. Consequently, the deadline to respond has been extended yet again, until the middle of next month.
Though there is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star label that scores public-assembly buildings, there is no label specifically for sports venues, says Colker. “EPA is interested in developing one,” he adds.
Sports venues are beginning to focus on sustainability. To date, there are 80 LEED-certified sports venues and 68 teams with energy-efficiency programs. Last year, Sacramento’s Golden 1 Credit Union Center became the first indoor sports venue to earn a LEED Platinum designation. The National Hockey League and AEG Worldwide lead the way in benchmarking performance and monitoring progress, according to the report.
There are also some facilities reaping savings. Over six years, the Major League Baseball Seattle Mariners saved some $1.5 million in utility costs through investments in energy and water savings. The University of Minnesota saves $412,000 annually. In 2015, nearly a third of National Football League teams played or trained at places that generated 10 million kWh per year of solar power.
Many facilities are ripe for rehabilitation, which might include energy and water retrofits. According to the report, NFL facilities, with an average age of 25.35 years, haven’t renovated for almost 12 years, on average. It has been 19 years, on average, since the MLB parks have renovated and 12 years since National Hockey League and/or National Basketball Association arenas have been renovated.
The $150,000 report lays out a general game plan for moving the conservation needle forward. For this, it recommends a partnership of architects, engineers, owners, operators, vendors and spectators. But first, owners need to submit the forms for the benchmarking survey, says Colker.