Toledo project in the running for first new ‘green’ arena

Developers for the ECHL facility opening in Toledo in 2009 expect it to be the nation’s first new LEED-certified pro sports arena.

The nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council started the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, known as LEED, in 2000 as a voluntary benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings worldwide. Buildings score points toward certification by meeting environmental standards in six categories.

“Everybody wants to be first,” said Tom Tingle, vice president for HNTB, the architect designing the $74 million Lucas County Arena. “It’s bragging rights, and being in the same circle as other premier projects.”

There are five LEED-certified sports venues in the U.S.: the Utah Olympic Oval, the Detroit Lions training facility, UConn’s football practice facility, a minor league/college ballpark in Pennsylvania, and Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

In the big league arena ranks, two NBA facilities in development — Orlando Events Center and Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. — are registered for LEED with the intention of being certified upon completion, said Green Building Council spokeswoman Ashley Katz. The Magic’s arena is targeted to open in October 2010, and the Nets’ facility could open later that year or in early 2011.

Questions remain as to whether the Nets’ project will break ground this year following reports in New York that team owner Bruce Ratner is struggling to secure financing for a $4 billion development that would include the $950 million arena. Nets officials maintain that construction will start by December for a late 2010 debut.

AT&T Center in San Antonio, which opened in 2002, registered for LEED certification in January under the existing buildings category. The Spurs have been phasing in eco-friendly methods for facility operations over the past six months, and have signed a contract to buy “windtricity” from a firm producing the alternative energy source at a wind turbine farm in the Texas plains, said John Sparks, the arena’s general manager.

A “green wall” on the Toledo arena will help
shade the glass-enclosed main entrance.

“We hope to be in the evaluation phase [for LEED certification] in the next three to six months,” Sparks said.

Lucas County Arena, with 8,000 seats, will be the home of the nonprofit Toledo Walleye, a minor league hockey team operated by the Toledo Mud Hens, the Class AAA baseball team in town.

The arena’s signature design element, a 900-square-foot “green wall” outside the building, will help it score LEED points, Tingle said. The plant life growing on a rectangular-shaped structure attached to the arena’s exterior will help cool the arena during the summer by shading the glass-enclosed main entrance, he said.

The green wall also should provide relief for suite and club-seat patrons who congregate in an outdoor plaza above the primary entryway.

The arena’s downtown site near mass transit, the light-colored roof membrane that reflects sunlight and underground cisterns collecting rainwater to re-use for landscaping around the facility are other examples of green elements used to gain LEED points, Tingle said.

Two Toledo-based companies — Pilkington, a glassmaker, and Owens Corning — are principally involved in the green effort and are contributing materials to help get the arena LEED certified.

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