Marlins pitching first retractable-roof Silver LEED sports stadium

Whoever said jocks aren't eco-conscious? If all goes as planned, the Miami Marlins will be kicking off their 2012 season in a Silver-rated LEED stadium -- the first such stadium in the nation.
Written by Mary Catherine O'Connor, Contributing Writer

In Miami, a shiny new arena is rising from the rubble of the Orange Bowl in Little Havana -- and we mean that literally, since some of the debris from the deconstructed old stadium is being recycled into the new stadium, due to open in April 2012.

The project, led by joint venture construction firm Hunt-Moss, is recycling 97 percent of its construction waste and sourcing much of the new building material from manufacturers within 500 miles for the site.

In the concessions area, hoods will use ultraviolet light to help prevent buildup of grease from all those hot dogs and nachos, which in turn should reduce by 52 percent the amount of water that would otherwise be used to clean the hoods.

Building the stadium to LEED standards -- it's been pre-approved for 18 LEED credits so far and the crew says it could still reach Gold status, but will very likely reach Silver -- isn't cheap. On the road to LEED, the Marlins are adding about $8 million to the final bill, says Pat Delano, senior project manager from Hunt/Moss.

One bright spot for building green, however, is the falling cost for materials such as low-VOC paint. "The premium for green building materials is nearly gone," says Jeff King, the Marlins vice president of facilities.

Due to the way air pressure inside the stadium will change when the roof opens, stadiums have to be strategic about ventilation. The Marlins are addressing this by opening a massive glass wall in the outfield whenever the roof is open. The architecture bonus here will be a stellar view of the Miami skyline, 12 miles distant, through the open wall.

The stadium is going to be very high-touch, with an exclusive "Diamond Club" where baseball fans who can foot a $400 ticket can get up close and personal with the bull pens, sit in plush chairs right behind home plate and eat and drink to their heart's content. Quite a contrast from the row houses of Little Havana, just outside the stadium gates. But the Marlins say they're working to make the new stadium an asset for the public, with public plazas and plans to reduce traffic impact on the hood, among other initiative. Time will tell if and how well this vision is realized.

The designers have added space for up to 500 bikes in the parking structure, though on a recent visit to the stadium and the Miami area, this reporter saw nearly zero people on bikes, despite the relatively mild (for Miami) weather. And while the stadium is pretty close to downtown, the nearest bus and mass transit stops are hefty walks from the stadium. The developers say they're looking into a shuttle bus system to connect commuters to the park.

Existing LEED-certified stadiums include Nationals Ballpark in D.C., Target Field in Minneapolis and Consol Center in Pittsburgh. But the Marlins stadium would be first retractable-roof LEED-rated pro sports stadium.

The Marlins are a member of the Green Sports Alliance a group of sustainability-minded teams, leagues, venues and universities and it is among the more than 140 stadiums that have applied for LEED certifications.

But the new stadium's economic sustainability has been called into question. The $525 million construction project has been largely publicly funded through bonds (which means the final tally, once financing is added, will grow to $2.4 billion) and there's some speculation about the fairness and transparency of the project.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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