Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Who is Taking the LEED is Sports?

In building the Marlin’s new ballpark, construction showed deference to environmental concerns. The construction manager ensured that the materials were separated and recycled, significantly reducing the waste made in creating this ball park. The crew recycled up to 98% of the construction waste.

The inside of the stadium has also undergone green consideration with the installation of 249 waterless urinals, and the utilization of low energy glass around the stadium. These installations will decrease the stadiums usage of water and electricity. The stadium implements solar lights, reducing energy consumption, as well as a recycling program, to reduce waste.

The company insists that the industry has shifted toward green products, whereas 15-20 years ago, sustainability was not discussed in a project such as this one. The Marlins hope to gain either silver or gold LEED certification by the U.S. Green Council. There are others who are making concerted efforts, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins whose new arena was awarded a LEED gold certification, and the Washington Nationals ballpark which gained LEED silver certification. Other franchises such as the Philadelphia Eagles and the Boston Red Sox have retrofited their stadiums to make energy saving changes.

This concerted effort in creating an environmentally friendly building shows new considerations in construction. Many new residential and commercial buildings also try to achieve LEED certification. An internationally recognized green building certification system, the U.S. Green Building Council LEED was developed in 2000. The Green Building Council believes that LEED can assist builders in identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. The Green Building Council made requirements flexible enough to apply to both residential and commercial design and these requirements benefit building owners and tenants through economic and social rewards. The U.S. Green Council, awards points for installing everything from solar powered lights, water saving toilets, bike racks, and even low energy glass.

John Knight, a Populous architect, explains that "operators are starting to realize that being smart about design can actually go to the bottom line and make buildings less expensive to operate over the life of the building." Knight continued that once educated, operators are excited to make environmental changes that can also save them money.

Many hope that this move toward LEED certification as regular construction practice in sports stadiums will encourage other buildings to make similar changes in order to be more environmentally friendly and LEED compliant, and hopefully they will also reap the additional economic rewards. Knight states that he hopes that LEED certification will become integrated with building codes, and become ordinary practice for business and builders alike.

-Sloane Tait, Legal Extern

Friday, November 11, 2011

There Are Worse Things than Sharks in the Water

When the warm weather returns and you prepare for a day of fun in the sun at the beach, add a new step to your routine, check online for water quality reports at the National Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) website. After analyzing three thousand United States beaches the NRDC found serious contamination in the waters. This contamination comes primarily from sewage pipes and storm water runoff that dump fecal waste, oil and other kinds of pollution into lakes and oceans. This contamination from sewage and storm water led to more than 24,000 beach closings and advisories in 2010. The 2010 beach closings and advisories were the second highest number in the last two decades. The contamination affects primarily the elderly, children, and those with compromised immune systems, and can lead to gastrointestinal illnesses, skin rashes, pinkeye and other health problems.

The worst beach contamination offenders: Avalon Beach and all of Cabrillo Beach Station in Los Angeles County; parts of Dohoney State Beach in Orange County; North Point Marina North Beach in Illinois; Beachwood Beach West in New Jersey. Florida's Keaton Beach, and four beaches in Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin, have failed water quality tests more than 25 percent of the time for the past five years in a row. While the Southeast did the best out of all the regions with just 4% of samples exceeding standards, there are still some precautions that should be taken when swimming in the ocean.

Check the NRDC website to see the water contamination at your beach, don't swim near a storm drain, and if the water looks or smells strange do not swim in it, frequently wash your hands, and take a shower after you swim. There also a few things you can do at home to prevent contamination such as fixing old, leaky sewage pipes and adding grass around parking lots to absorb rainwater. Helena Solo-Gabriele, an environmental engineer at the University of Miami in Florida, is hoping for faster testing techniques, the current detection takes twenty-four hours, to assist the public in knowing when waters are safe. She suggests that so long as reasonable precautions are taken, the public’s safety isn’t compromised by swimming at the beach.

-Sloane Tait, Legal Intern