Archive for category: LEED Certification

Orlando’s Amway Center Turns Green into Gold

This post is an update to our August 24, 2010 entry titled “Orlando’s New Amway Center Goes Green.”

Today, the City of Orlando and the Orlando Magic will announce that the Amway Center, the city’s entertainment venue and home of the Orlando Magic basketball team, has earned a “LEED Gold” certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. According to an article published today in the Orlando Sentinel, the Amway Center is the first new NBA arena to earn a “LEED Gold” certification.  The Amway Center first opened in the fall of 2010, with the start of the Magic’s basketball season.

This award is a great signal for the state of sustainable development in the City of Orlando.  Alex Martins, Orlando Magic president said, “We promised to create an arena that was civic-oriented, pedestrian-friendly and added to downtown development. We promised a sustainable arena, and are proud to say that with today’s announcement and with great teamwork, we have surpassed our goals for LEED certification.”

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Sustainability as a Market Advantage

Article first published as “Sustainability as a Market Advantage” on Technorati.com.

In my research and writing on the topic of sustainability, I look for examples of developers or owners who are fully motivated to build a sustainable building because of an overriding economic reason to do so.

Sure, there are visible stories about owners who build “green” because it is “the right thing to do”, and some tout that energy savings to the tenants will add attractiveness to sustainable buildings, but those savings seem quite undefinable in a way that will motivate the tenants to pay higher rent.

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This “Green Building” is Making Me Sick!

If you live or work in a LEED-certified building, how should you feel? Good? Would you expect to feel no different than if you worked in a ‘normal’ building? Believe it or not, you may feel worse.  Mixed reviews are starting to surface regarding the effect that living or working in a LEED-certified building will have on human health.

A Michigan State University study published on July 15 of this year boldly declared that people who work in LEED-certified buildings are less likely to be sick, are more productive, and feel less stress than those who work in buildings which are not LEED-certified.  (Singh, Grady, et. al, “Effects of Green Buildings on Health and Productivity,” http://news.msu.edu/media/documents/2010/08/840514e8-0b32-4aa4-9fc8-276b688dfed4.pdf).  Surprisingly to us, this study relied on self-reporting of those people who had moved from a non-LEED-certified building for information as to their health, or perceived health, rather than strict scientific study.

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A Sustainable Motivation to Go Green

The owners of the Empire State Building are investing $20 million in an effort to reduce the building’s energy use by 38 percent.  All of the landmark’s 6,514 windows are being remanufactured, on site, to be reused as energy efficient replacements on the 79 year-old structure.  All in all, this retrofit of an American icon is easily the most visible effort to “go green” in present memory.  Darius Dixon, How to Get Prompt Payback From an Aging Icon That Guzzles Energy.

Amazingly, the Empire State Building consumes as much electricity as 40,000 single family homes each day.  Given the number of high rise office buildings in New York City, and the estimation that 85% of its current buildings will be standing in 25 years, there is plenty of reason to focus on retrofits.  And New York City is not alone in that respect – I would venture to guess that a substantial number of existing buildings in most major cities and a lot of smaller cities will be standing for many years to come.

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Orlando’s New Amway Center Goes Green

There is “magic” in the air in Orlando, Florida.  Orlando’s Amway Center, the brand new home of the Orlando Magic basketball franchise, is due to open in early October.  Central Florida is abuzz with interest about the final touches being put on the events arena which is situated so prominently in the city’s downtown, and which marks the first of three major public construction projects for downtown Orlando (the others being a new performing arts center and an upgraded football stadium).  But our interest in this venue is Amway Center’s hope to be the fourth NBA facility to earn  the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) new construction certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (www.usgbc.org).

Engineers and architects have designed the new Amway Center not only to provide a world-class sports and entertainment facility, but also to be one of the greenest arenas in the country.  Following completion of construction, application will be made for certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) program.  It expected to receive at least a basic certification, but hopes to earn silver recognition. (Mark Schleub, “Orlando touts benefits of ‘green’ Amway Center,” Nov. 4, 2009).  The arena was designed to use twenty percent less energy and forty percent less water than other sports and entertainment areas of the same size.

In addition to having a high-efficiency heating and cooling system and ultra low-flow toilets, the Amway Center will have a reflective and insulated roof to assist with cooling costs and energy retention, monitoring systems which turn off lights when rooms are not in use, bike racks and showers to encourage biking to work, preferred parking for hybrid vehicles, recharging outlets for electric cars and recycling services for arena visitors.

Impressively, approximately eighty-three percent of the wood, concrete and steel construction waste was recycled, rather than sent to a construction landfill.  Many of the building materials used in construction were made from recycled materials and locally sourced.

Amway Center representatives are confident the arena will obtain LEED certification. Indeed, its website says that the arena “will” be LEED-certified. (http://www.amwaycenter.com/leed-certification). The Hunt Construction Group, builder of the Amway Center project, has had other projects receive LEED certification, including the Consol Energy Center, home to the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins team, which just received a gold certification. (http://huntconstructiongroup.com/landmarks/project-news/amway-center-update/).

Not much has been written about the Amway Center’s attempts to use green construction methods, obtain LEED certification or how much more the green design added to the total project cost.  Due to the enormous amount of taxpayer dollars which were utilized to build the arena, we look forward to reviewing the USBC’s report detailing the LEED certification review of the Amway Center, and hope that the building is openly and publicly monitored to determine what the environmental and cost savings are to local taxpayers.   No doubt there will be plenty of fanfare about an exciting new center among the press, but here’s hoping that a significant portion of the news is devoted to how a beautiful new public facility will also benefit the environment AND taxpayers’ pocketbooks.

This article was authored by Laura M. Walda, who is a Florida attorney and an associate with Lowndes Drosdick Doster Kantor & Reed, P.A. (www.lowndes-law.com).  Commercially Green Florida is a blog authored and maintained by Dale A. Burket, a Florida attorney who is Board Certified in Real Estate by The Florida Bar, and who is a partner with Lowndes Drosdick Doster Kantor & Reed, P.A.

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