LEED-EB O&M at the Rose Garden Arena
Materials and Resources (MR): 8 points (out of 10 possible)
This category addresses purchasing and solid-waste management.
At the Rose Garden, a new lighting purchasing plan specifies the maximum level of mercury permitted in mercury-containing lamps (90 picograms per lumen-hour), and a new six-page "Environmentally Preferable Purchasing" policy for the facility emphasizes source reduction, waste prevention, and reuse practices to reduce consumption of virgin materials and avoid other negative environmental impacts.
Not much trash heads to the landfill, according to Zeulner. "Almost 100 percent of what we hand guests is either compostable or recyclable."
The facility switched to compostable products for food and beverage services, including all cups, plates, and utensils. The Rose Garden also has a composting program with vendors, which includes an industrial-sized onsite food-waste compactor that allows more efficient hauling of compostable materials. The facility's garbage hauler, Allied Waste, takes both food waste and compostables to a local facility just south of Portland that turns the materials into mulch that is used by local farmers.
To help visitors sort waste properly, the Rose Garden facilities team developed special collection stations divided into compartments for compostables, glass recycling, commingled recycling, and garbage. About 300 such stations have been installed in the arena concourse, replacing virtually all of the conventional trash cans inside the building. The only standard trash cans remaining are outside the facility in places where building staff cannot control the waste stream, according to Zeulner.
The Rose Quarter also promotes recycling in outreach to event guests, such as concertgoers and season-ticket-holding basketball fans.
The combination of purchasing decisions, staff training, sorting of waste after events, and other procedures helps to annually divert more than 800 tons (730 metric tons) of food waste alone.
The purchasing policy also applies to electric-powered equipment. For example, Energy Star-rated appliances were purchased for food and beverage areas.
Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ): 11 points (out of 15 possible)
The Rose Garden facilities team took several steps to improve indoor environmental quality. It instituted a non-idling policy for drivers at loading or unloading areas, including garages, and moved public smoking areas at least 25 feet (7.6 meters) from building entrances, operable windows, and ventilation intakes.
Walk-off mats were placed at all building entrances to reduce the amount of dirt entering the building on shoes. And existing air filters were replaced with MERV 13-rated units. (MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, a rating scale from ASHRAE. Higher numbers on this one-to-20 scale indicate greater effectiveness of the air filter.)
An indoor air quality (IAQ) management plan was instituted, and an IAQ manager was designated. That person is responsible to addressing existing and potential problems, educating building personnel about IAQ management, developing and implementing a plan for facility operations and maintenance, administering occupant comfort surveys, and communicating with building occupants about maintaining IAQ.
Low-decibel vacuum cleaners are provided for use by janitorial staff.
Innovation in Operations (IO): 6 points (out of 6 possible)
The Rose Garden received all 4 points available under IO Credit 1, "Innovation in Operations." The relevant steps taken included thermal imaging of the building envelope (performed by a contractor in October 2009; will subsequently be performed in-house every two years) and developing an educational program for visitors. The custodial program contributed via "exemplary performance."
Regional Priority (RP): 2 points (out of 4 possible)
In this category, instituted by the USGBC with the LEED 2009 update, the Rose Garden received additional points for its solid-waste management and heat-island reduction actions.
Regional Priority offers a way for projects to earn bonus points for certain credits achieved elsewhere on the LEED scorecard — ones that USGBC regional councils and chapters have designated as being particularly important for their geographical areas. Six such points are available in any given location, and a project may earn up to four of these.
In Portland, the credits eligible for Regional Priority bonus points are Materials & Resources Credits 5 and 7 (sustainable food purchasing, and reduction of waste from ongoing consumables, respectively), and Sustainable Sites Credits 5 (habitat protection and restoration), 6 (stormwater quantity control), 7.1 (nonroof heat-island reduction), and 8 (light pollution reduction).
The Rose Garden earned SS Credit 7.1, "Heat Island Reduction—Nonroof," along with the corresponding RP bonus point, for having more than 50 percent of its parking is under cover, meaning it isn't an exposed asphalt surface lot, according to Zeulner.
Perspective of the Building Owner/ Manager
According to Zeulner, the motivation to attain a high level of sustainability at the arena came from every level of the organizations involved, from part-time staff to top management. He attributes the motivation partly to a pervasive sustainable ethic in the Portland culture. Even so, he says the Trail Blazers considered it essential to analyze costs and benefits of LEED certification.
"There are constraints on resources for any building owner or manager," Zeulner says. "There's only so much money. They [LEED consultants] need to bring a business case analysis as well as an environmental perspective into the picture."
The Rose Garden facilities team did not start implementing sustainable plans with the intention of achieving LEED certification, according to Zeulner. They started working to improve campus sustainability in 2005, he says, and started getting serious about measuring, developing, implementing, and monitoring sustainable policies and programs in 2008, prior to the LEED-EB: O&M project.
"We understood that injecting environmental performance into our operations was the right approach, made financial sense, and was a great way to be a community partner," he says.
"We made the decision to get more serious and wanted to know what we could do further, thus hiring Green Building Services."
Zeulner continues: "As part of their original sustainability assessments, we asked them to give us a guide if we wanted to pursue LEED-EB: O&M certification. The goal was to obtain the highest level possible, with some capital constraints, of course. We assumed we would achieve Gold. The goal now is to make further improvements to achieve Platinum rating."
Zeulner reports that 50 consultants were interviewed for the Rose Garden LEED-EB project before GBS was selected. He comments that the firm brought a partnership approach and felt like a partner throughout the process.
The Rose Garden benefited from tax incentives through state and federal programs that encourage energy-efficient buildings and provide tax credits or partial funding to help pay for new systems or appliances. But even without incentives, measures such as energy-efficient lighting pay off over the long term in reduced operational costs and lower energy bills, Zeulner says.
The Portland Trail Blazers organization opted not to release information about financial costs and benefits of the Rose Garden's LEED-EB certification effort for this article.
LEED Consultant's Perspective
Elaine Aye says that when GBS works with a facility owner or manager on a LEED-EB: O&M project, the firm always works to identify changes that bring a fast return on investment, such as plumbing retrofits that greatly increase water efficiency, or changes that capitalize on available financial incentives for energy efficiency through entities such as Energy Trust of Oregon.
GBS also looks at long-term investments, such as changes to mechanical systems and purchasing practices.
Its team establishes metrics to understand the baseline performance of the building, makes decisions on systems upgrades, implements those systems upgrades, and measures the upgraded performance. Measuring actual performance provides black-and-white data on how well the building is performing and provides feedback for maintaining the building on a day-to-day basis.
Aye says that what she loves about the LEED-EB: O&M rating system is that it's a journey, not a destination. Whereas a designer on a project targeting LEED for New Construction might see the building through construction, model its assumed performance, and hope that the building will continue to operate as intended, LEED for Existing Buildings requires the project team to continue monitoring and fine-tuning actual building performance on an ongoing basis.
Aye points out that it is also important to get the building occupants involved in keeping the building functioning efficiently. To that end, GBS has an in-house training division that provides training programs about maintaining buildings consistent with LEED-EB certification. Those programs can target tenants or employees, ranging from janitors to building engineers, and sometimes involve developing a "green team" among building occupants who will pay attention to maintaining the building to operate efficiently on an ongoing basis.
Zeulner says the Rose Garden team will continue striving to make the arena a showcase of renewable energy, water efficiency, and other sustainability features that might provide a touchpoint for visitors to learn more and do more in their own buildings and homes.
The team will also continue implementing improvements to make the facility more sustainable, and is investigating the feasibility of installing a photovoltaic system on the roof of the ticket office building across the walkway from the arena building, although that may not provide as immediate a return on investment as some changes that have already been made.
Aye says GBS's goal is to create the internal capacity within the Trail Blazers organization and the Rose Garden facilities team to be able to track and maintain building-systems data internally and maintain the building's operating systems at peak performance for the long haul. GBS developed its own proprietary software, Building Insights, to use for monitoring building systems, keeping records as required, and maintaining LEED-EB: O&M certification. The Rose Garden facilities team will use the software's O&M track when fully integrated with LEED-Online, Aye says. As they continue to make improvements, GBS will provide support and technical analysis and help them track their efforts.
"It's one thing to get certification. It's another to measure performance and maintain it on a day-to-day basis," she says.
Unlike other LEED ratings, LEED-EB certifications last only five years. Projects can apply for recertification as often as once a year, but must apply at least once every five years to maintain certification. If its current trajectory holds, when the Rose Garden seeks to recertify, the target level will be Platinum.
Tim Shinabarger is a land-use planner, a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and a freelance journalist. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.
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