Florida's 1st Bldg to achieve highest energy-efficiency rating
Orange and Blue, and green too - Heavener Football Complex is Florida's first building to achieve highest energy-efficiency rating
As University of Florida athletes pump iron, measures to protect the environment can be found above their heads and below their feet.
The floor of the weight room in the Heavener Football Complex is made of recycled rubber, keeping tires out of a landfill.
The Heavener Football Complex on the University of Florida campus, shown Thursday, reflects UF"s stated commitment to constructing all new buildings to meet high standards of energy efficiency.
A planter filled with palms and other native species sits on the roof, providing energy-saving insulation and soaking up runoff.
The features helped the complex, a new addition to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, receive a green-building rating of platinum. It's the top rating possible - the first building in Florida and first athletic facility in the U.S. to receive such a designation.
"We were really pushing to be efficient and do everything right," said Bahar Armaghani, UF's assistant director for facilities planning and construction.
The complex is part of UF's efforts to build new structures to the highest green-building standards.
UF also is working to make its athletics program more environmentally friendly, including efforts to offset carbon emissions from games and recycle waste from tailgating.
Sports teams had been late to the environmental movement but are now getting on board, said Lisa Delpy Nariotti, a sports management professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., who developed a green scorecard for teams.
While sporting events such as the Olympics have a green component, she said, the NCAA is just starting to explore the issue. She envisions a day when host sites might be required to meet environmental standards to land events such as the NCAA basketball tournament.
"Anyone who's at the forefront of this will have an advantage," she said.
The $28 million Heavener complex includes athletic offices, conference rooms and an atrium with trophies from UF's national championships. The complex was finished last year but just last week received platinum certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system.
There are 130 buildings rated LEED platinum in the U.S. Certification is based on factors such as energy use, water management and innovation in design.
Meeting the standards isn't cheap. The features help pay for themselves through reduced utility costs, said Greg McGarity, senior associate athletics director.
"It might cost more on the front end, but in the long haul, it's going to cost less," he said.
UF President Bernie Machen pledged this year that all new campus buildings would meet at least LEED's gold standard, just below platinum.
UF currently has two gold buildings, one silver building and seven with basic certification, said Carol Walker, assistant vice president for facilities planning and construction.
Walker said LEED requirements have been woven into UF's building standards, so more platinum rankings are likely with new buildings. The university also plans to retrofit 32 existing buildings with energy-saving features.
Three athletic facilities are on that list: a basketball practice facility, swim-and-dive center and facility with locker rooms for soccer and other sports.
Sometimes sports and sustainability can be at odds, from the waste associated with football games to the desire to have a lush, green playing surface.
McGarity said the reclaimed water used to irrigate plants on campus is undesirable on fields where players have regular contact with the surface.
But he said a new lacrosse facility addresses the issue by having water-catching devices on the roof that distribute rainwater for irrigation. The facility might be certified as LEED platinum when completed, he said.
To address waste at football games, a green team has collected cans and bottles for recycling. As part of the Neutral Gator Initiative, UF's most recent home football season was certified to be carbon neutral through tree plantings and light-bulb exchanges.
The goal now is making UF's entire slate of athletic events carbon neutral, UF sustainability director Dedee DeLongpre-Johnston said.
Sports provide a way to make the public more environmentally aware, she said.
"You reach a really wide audience," she said.