No Magic Tricks Here

With hard work and smart design, Orlando Venues takes an arena above and beyond industry standards into LEED Gold territory

As the newest professional basketball arena in the nation, Orlando’s Amway Center has set a new sustainable standard for existing and soon-to-be constructed NBA facilities. Opened in October 2010, the seven-story, 875,000-square-foot Amway Center—home to the Orlando Magic—is the first NBA arena to achieve LEED Gold certification for new construction.

“Achieving LEED certification was an actively engaged decision,” Orlando Venues executive director Allen Johnson says. “We knew we were going to build the most efficient venue possible.” A department of the city of Orlando, Orlando Venues acts as the municipality’s property manager and oversees the operations of all its sports and performance venues, most notably the Amway Center and the Citrus Bowl football stadium. By incorporating numerous energy- and water-saving features into the Amway Center’s design, Orlando Venues and program manager Turner Construction were able to attain 39 LEED points for the arena. High-efficiency lighting systems and high-performance windows and glazing systems contributed to a 20 percent reduction in utility costs. The windows and glazing—along with a solar-reflective roof—also minimize heat gain, thus reducing the arena’s cooling costs, Johnson says.

During the design phase, the project team added and planned water-saving features and initiatives in the facility, including the collection of the chiller’s condensate, which is routed through an underground system for reuse. Rainwater from the roof is also reused on-site for irrigation. All told, these efforts saved 1.3 million gallons of water. “We tried to capture every source of reuse that we could,” Johnson says.

Amway Center's daylit Disney Atrium is just one of its green features. Less visible is a water-saving system that routes condensate from the facility’s chiller through an underground system for reuse. Rainwater from the roof is also reused on-site for irrigation.

Other features that garnered LEED points were related to transportation and construction materials. According to Johnson, 20 percent of the project’s construction materials were recycled, and 30 percent of the facility was constructed from regional and local sources. Also, the arena is situated 150 yards from Orlando’s commuter-rail system and borders high-density residential developments. Additionally, five percent of the parking lot is reserved for fuel-efficient cars, and 250 bike stalls also are available.

With its first NBA season behind it, the Amway Center is currently undergoing a notable air-conditioning upgrade, a sign of Orlando Venues’s commitment to maintaining a sustainable, cost-saving arena. The repiping of the air-conditioning system will allow the facility to maintain a constant airflow, which will minimize its usage and thus its costs. The long-term savings gained from the facility’s numerous sustainable aspects will likely be reinvested into the arena because luxury suites and other fan amenities are in constant need of yearly upgrades.

“Not only do you have to stay on the cutting edge, but you have to compete for [the] consumer’s entertainment dollar,” Johnson says. “The consumer is demanding and savvy, and they choose to come to our venue.”

As the newest NBA arena, the Amway Center has garnered the attention of various venue operators, as the facility recently hosted nearly 130 members of the International Association of Venue Managers for a tour. “There’s a move in the industry to make [green building] more of a priority,” Johnson says, adding that a significant amount of existing basketball arenas have undergone retrofit projects. Up next for Orlando Venues? The renovation of the Citrus Bowl to LEED standards.