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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Dale Burket is a partner in the Real Estate Transactions, Development and Finance Commercial Leasing, and Environmental Law practices. With over 29 years of experience, Dale focuses his real estate legal practice on multi-site, multi-jurisdictional real estate acquisitions, dispositions, leasing and financing and large, multi-site and multi-state real estate transactions. His hospitality practice concentrates on restaurant leases and financing arrangements. Dale has also represented Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) in connections with mergers, securitizations, purchase of income producing properties, and sales of properties by taxable REIT subsidiaries. Dale is Board Certified in Real Estate Law by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education. He has represented local, regional, and national clients in commercial real estate transactions, including CNL Financial Group, Inc., JDS Holdings, LLC., and Northland, A Church Distributed Inc. Dale has also handled purchase and sale transactions in excess of $100 Million, handled real estate aspects of a corporate merger involving more than 2,000 properties, and closed senior credit facilities on behalf of the borrower in excess of $50 Million.

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