By BRIAN JOHNSON
BridgeTower Media Newswires
Two years after getting high marks for treading softly on the environment, U.S. Bank Stadium is taking “green” design principles to an even higher level on the operations side.
So says the U.S. Green Building Council, which presented stadium officials on Thursday with their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum award for operations and maintenance, a first-of-its-kind honor for professional sports stadiums.
LEED Platinum is the organization’s highest level of certification for practices such as reducing energy and water use, tapping into clean energy sources, diverting waste from landfills and promoting mass transit and bicycle commuting.
In 2017, the USGBC awarded its second-highest level of certification, LEED Gold, to the stadium for its building design and construction. The 1.75 million-square-foot stadium opened in 2016.
By practicing green design on a high level, the downtown Minneapolis stadium has set an example for other building owners and operators, said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and chief executive of the Washington, D.C.-based USGBC.
During an award ceremony at the stadium, Ramanujam said LEED Platinum certification is an especially big achievement for “a stadium of this size, a space of this size,” with “so many people coming in.”
“These types of projects clearly make the case of why nobody should be making excuses” to avoid doing “the right thing,” Ramanujam said.
Patrick Talty, general manager of U.S. Bank Stadium, pointed to an array of practices that have helped the stadium achieve LEED Platinum honors, including the diversion from landfills of 1.86 million pounds of recyclable materials and 950,000 pounds of compost.
When the stadium played host to the Super Bowl in February 2018, 91% of game-day waste was steered away from landfills, said Mike Vekich, chairman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.
Renewable-energy credits, natural lighting, efficient heating and cooling systems, low-flow fixtures, and more have helped the stadium reduce its use of energy and water, Talty said. Such practices have also saved money .
Talty said it’s hard to pinpoint how much money the stadium has saved by relying on green practices. Big events at the stadium, such as the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, skew the numbers.
Even so, “from 2016 to now, I believe we have reduced like 10 percent overall. But that is with those major events happening. Baseline to baseline, it’s a more significant number because we have these large events that change our profile,” he said.
Cost savings aside, Talty said green designs are the “responsible thing to do. We know that we need to be responsible and reduce the power loads.”
On a less sanguine note, wildlife advocates have long criticized the glass-heavy stadium as being a death trap for migratory birds. Steps taken to reduce bird injuries and deaths from “in-flight collisions with buildings” are taken into acccount in LEED certifications.
Vekich said Friday that a study on bird mortality at U.S. Bank Stadium and other buildings is expected to be released in October.
“We will have the scholarly material and then it will most likely come with a proposal. We will have to see where we go from there,” Vekich said.