Energy Demand Characteristics and the Potential for Energy Efficiency in Sports Stadiums and Arenas
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A professional sports stadium can use 5-10 MW of electricity during an event, the equivalent of 5,000 American homes. The US Energy Information Agency (EIA) classifies these buildings under the broader "entertainment and culture" sector, but very little institutional knowledge or data exists in terms of the unique energy use characteristics of these structures. While sports venues have attracted some investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy, facility managers are often unaware of their energy use breakdown or the potential savings from comprehensive efficiency measures. Further, market barriers exist that hinder the full implementation of energy efficiency. This masters project investigates the progress of U.S. stadiums and arenas in energy management and energy efficiency investment. In order to deeply understand and quantify the energy use characteristics and energy savings potential of sports venues, over 40 leading stadium energy efficiency experts were interviewed and data was collected and analyzed from primary and secondary sources. Interviews requested information on energy use per year (electricity and natural gas), energy use breakdown, energy efficiency investments, and realized returns. General information on the structure and inner-workings of energy management programs at stadiums and arenas was also requested in order to learn how leading facilities approach implementation. The results of four in-depth stadium case studies found that energy retrofits costing between $85,000 to $350,000 had simple payback periods of less than or equal to 5 years. Lighting retrofits were found to have a considerable impact on cost reduction with a 1 to 2 year payback (including rebates, incentives, and reduction of “overlighted” areas). We developed a model for analyzing energy savings through lighting for a prototypical MLB stadium. This model reveals that the greatest opportunity for cost reduction lies in the improvement of building controls and behavior change to reduce operating hours of lighting equipment. A 1M square foot stadium can expect to save up to 33% of lighting energy costs per year. Additional savings of 21% can be achieved from lighting technology upgrades. In particular, upgrading to T8 fluorescents from T12 fluorescents provides a considerable return. LED upgrades require longer paybacks and are more favorable in areas where the cost of electricity is high as well as in new build facilities. Lastly we considered market barriers limiting investments in energy efficiency and proposed solutions, including best practices in energy use benchmarking. By utilizing a kBTU/square feet measure and normalizing for weather, we were able to generate a U-shaped curve from our case studies. We believe such a comparison could be beneficial to the industry to provide a broadly applicable benchmarking metric that can help stadiums discover to further reduce energy. Lastly, we recommend the establishment of a GreenFund at the league level to increase access to capital, foster competition for high return projects, and spur investment in energy efficiency in sports venues.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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