Penn State wins race for first LEED-certified stadium

September 01, 2007 |

The Washington Nationals are promising a green stadium with reserved parking for fuel-efficient cars and restrooms that conserve water. The University of Minnesota is promising a LEED-certified stadium designed by HOK Sport for its new football palace. Even the Louisville Arena Authority in Kentucky is asking the architect of its new downtown basketball arena to add sustainable elements. But none of these projects will be the first stadium, professional or college, certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. That race has already been won by Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, a $30 million, 110,000-sf baseball park on the campus of Penn State University in State College, Pa., which was awarded certification in July.

Designed by L. Robert Kimball & Associates, Pittsburgh, and built by Barton Malow, Southfield, Mich., the 5,500-seat ballpark is a dual pro/college stadium, shared by Penn State's baseball team and the State College Spikes, a minor league club.

Green initiatives include the use of waterless urinals and low-emitting materials; reusing rock dug out of the outfield as fill material to level the playing field; connecting the stadium to an existing gray water system that also serves nearby Beaver Stadium; shared parking with the existing Bryce Jordan Center; diverting 76% of construction waste for recycling; and adding trees in parking areas to reduce the heat island effect.

“We did a lot of what's becoming typical in terms of materials and on-site recycling,” says Scott Mull, project manager for Barton Malow. “But the bigger the project, the more there is to recycle.”

The Building Team approached Penn State about going for LEED certification late in the project's design stage. The university gave the OK with the stipulation that the green initiatives would not raise the price of the stadium. According to Marve Bevan, project manager for Penn State, the sustainable elements didn't create any additional costs.

“Places where it may have cost us a little more to get something that qualified for LEED, we saved money elsewhere,” says Chuck Shaw, project manager for L. Robert Kimball. “Green building materials were readily available, and for almost no extra cost. All the manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon, so it was easy to get those credits.”

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