What do the Miami Heat, Atlanta Thrashers, and Atlanta Hawks have in common? As of today, all three teams play in LEED-certified arenas. The Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia and the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida became the first NBA and NHL arenas in the country to meet federal environmental operating standards this week.
Philips Arena features carpeting made of recycled materials, compact-fluorescent lamps, and stringent water conservation measures. The revamped American Airlines Arena has energy-efficient underground parking, water-conserving toilets, and carpeting designed to hold dirt and hence increase air quality.
The two arenas did not, of course, become LEED-certified just for kicks. The venues hope to save money and attract corporate sponsors with their certification. American Airlines Arena, for example, expects to shave $500,000 off of its $3 million yearly utility bills with the green upgrades.
This week’s LEED certification announcements are only the latest in a series of attempts by the professional sports industry to demonstrate its environmental awareness. This week is the NBA’s first ever Green Week, designed to raise awareness and funds for environmental issues. In February, the Phoenix Convention Center’s NBA All-Star Game offset its power use with carbon credits, and last month the Washington Nationals scored the first LEED-certified ballpark in the country.