Sports, entertainment venues: Sustainability and energy efficiency

Sports arenas and entertainment facilities involve complex engineering solutions. Engineers discuss sustainability, renewable energy, and energy efficiency in these buildings.


Keith Cooper, PE, President, McClure Engineering, St. Louis. Courtesy: McClure EngineeringDouglas H. Evans, PE, FSFPE, Fire Protection Engineer, Clark County, Nevada. Courtesy: Clark County, NevadaBill Larwood, PE, LEED AP, Senior Vice President/Project Principal, Syska Hennessey Group, Los Angeles. Courtesy: Syska Hennessey GroupKevin Lewis, PE, LEED AP BD+C, Vice President, Henderson Engineers, Lenexa, Kansas. Courtesy: Henderson EngineersBruce McKinlay, Principal, Arup, Los Angeles. Courtesy: Arup

Participants (left to right):

Keith Cooper, PE, President, McClure Engineering, St. Louis

Douglas H. Evans, PE, FSFPE, Fire Protection Engineer, Clark County, Nevada

Bill Larwood, PE, LEED AP, Senior Vice President/Project Principal, Syska Hennessey Group, Los Angeles

Kevin Lewis, PE, LEED AP BD+C, Vice President, Henderson Engineers, Lenexa, Kansas

Bruce McKinlay, Principal, Arup, Los Angeles    

CSE: What types of systems have you specified in stadiums to help make them more efficient?

Larwood: Stadiums and entertainment venues often will have large lobby areas with vast curtain walls—providing great daylighting opportunities. These daylighting solutions rely on light photocells to measure the ambient light and save energy. Likewise, occupancy sensors can save energy throughout the venues by shutting off lights.

McKinlay: I’ve seen passive shading strategies for open arenas, thermal energy storage (TES) so cooling can be generated over low demand times, and rainwater reclamation systems to be used for irrigation and toilet flushing.

The team at Arup helped execute systems at the Singapore Sports Hub, which features a 55,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof that has an LED lighting system, making it the largest programmable LED screen in the world. Courtesy: OakerLewis: For arenas with large occupancies, we specify units with CO2 sensors, energy recovery systems, and enthalpy economizers where it makes sense. For non-bowl systems we’ll use variable air volume (VAV) systems or single-zone VAV so that we can make the most of the time periods when the occupied load isn’t 100%. For baseball parks or stadium suites, we have been integrating variable refrigerant flow (VRF) technologies that provide very efficient condensing units to reduce consumption. We’ve also tried to reduce the lighting wattage below the ASHRAE minimums as well as incorporate low-flow fixtures as much as possible to keep water usage at a minimum.

CSE: What types of renewable energy systems have you incorporated into sports or entertainment venues?

Lewis: We have used photovoltaic systems on a variety of projects as a way to use renewable energy systems in sports and entertainment venues. For the most part these projects typically have large roof expanses or parking lots that are ideal areas to catch the sun while not intruding on the final look of the project.

CSE: Have you seen the demand for electric vehicle charging stations increase in venues like this?

McKinlay: Yes, for a project that we were looking to achieve zero carbon in car trips on game day. Not yet, but this could be a feature of the future.

Lewis: For the first time in 2012 we started seeing a request for two to four specific spaces at sports venues for electric car charging stations. As time passes we believe the need for this type of parking spot will increase both in the number of spots required and the number of venues requesting these amenities.

Cooper: We have not. 

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