AmericanAirlines Arena is bathed in green for tonight’s Heat-New Orleans Hornets game, in honor of the venue receiving LEED (which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The coveted designation was bestowed upon the Miami venue and Philips Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers, this week. Heat and Miami officials announced AmericanAirlines Arena’s “green” stamp of approval Tuesday morning. My colleague Doreen Hemlock, who covers “green” business, was there to capture the sentiment.
Among the green features at the arena are its roof paints and sealants that reflect the sun, instead of absorbing heat; drought-resistant plants and irrigation system; and its purchase of chilled water from a nearby plant for more than $100,000 a month rather than building a water plant that would have cost about $30 million and requires high energy to operate.
Eric Woolworth, Heat president of business operations, said the decision to seek LEED certification was "strategic" to differentiate the arena from others and boost business.
"This is a really challenging time to attract sponsors, and this is one way to separate ourselves from the pack," he said, noting that Waste Management already has signed up as a partner in a multi-year deal. "And hopefully, it will attract entertainers and acts that want to play green venues and visitors who want to support green venues."
Costs for certification were minimal, because nearly all paperwork was handled in-house and few improvements were needed to qualify, said Kim Stone, the arena's general manager. The nearly 10-year-old building already boasted many of the electricity- and water-saving features to earn the certification, such as underground parking that produces less heat than above-ground asphalt lots.
Green has now reached the consciousness of sports teams and leagues. BankAtlantic Center has adopted environmental measures, and has explored LEED certification, but it not pursuing it at this time. The Sunrise venue that is home to the Panthers uses green cleaning products, recycles everything from cardboard to light bulbs to cell phones and is considering adding solar panels on the venue’s roof, arena officials said.
And Silver LEED certification is a requirement of the Marlins’ planned $515 million ballpark in Little Havana. Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami have agreed to contribute up to $1.75 million each toward the certification; with Major League Baseball pledging $1 million to the cost. The team would pick up any additional costs. The ballpark would become the second silver LEED certified building in the league, after the Washington Nationals’ ballpark.