Are Sporting Events the Unsung Green Building Heroes?

PLC Aquatics Center

The development of large-scale public architecture works has not traditionally been a sustainable practice. Traditionally, the emphasis when building public buildings – especially sporting arenas – has been placed on catering to the masses, improving durability at any cost and creating a unique and iconic aesthetic.

However, in a surprising turn, a growing number of sporting venues are leading a change in the ways in which culturally significant architecture is delivered.

Whether it is out of a real moral consideration or a goal to on the cutting edge, industries worldwide are proposing – and delivering on – very green sporting arenas that garner acclaim from the masses.

Joining the ranks of acclaimed sporting arenas before it – including Qatar and Brazil’s FIFA world cup Stadia, and perhaps more similarly, the London Olympics’ Aquatic Centre – plans for a complex housing Toronto’s PCL Aquatics Centre and Field House and the Canadian Sports Institute Ontario (CSIO) promise to be just as impressive in their incorporation of environmentally responsible design features.

What is being heralded as one of the most significant new builds in the lead up to the 2015 Pan American Games, the multi-functional sports centre has been designed by architectural firm NORR in association with aquatics and engineering specialists Counsilman-Hunsaker.

FIFA World Cup Stadia in Brazil

Together the developmental cohort plans to deliver on a facility that is an ‘experience’ rather simply a building, according to NORR Limited president Silvio Baldassarra.

‘Not only are we excited about providing the Games athletes and spectators a remarkable performance experience,’ says Baldassarra. “We are proud to be creating a legacy facility for our community, students and athletes for years to come.”

Not only will the facility be accessible to athletes from all walks of life – from community members to Olympians – it will physically be highly accessible. Accessibility has been a key catalyst for designers, and will be delivered through the implementation of flexible changing room layouts, mobile pool bulkheads and room dividers and direct public access routes.

The sporting centre has been designed to epitomize Canada’s strong commitment to diversity and inclusivity, so it was only logical to implement ESD features in order to make the development an ‘economically viable and sustainable facility’ for all.

Overall sustainability will be a major focus with the building’s design following the Toronto Green Standards requirements in order to reach the targeted LEED Silver certification, and energy efficiency will play a key role in delivery on economical and environmentally responsible solutions.

With stringent guidelines ruling the facility’s water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality, the developers are confident of its ability to perform as LEED Silver level.

By Emily D’Alterio
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