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Sacramento's Green Arena

Ma  Green Scene  May17 1

Arena is first indoor sports venue to earn LEED Platinum

The Sacramento Kings have a new basketball arena. The new Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., is the world's only indoor arena to claim LEED Platinum certification. It has earned the highest score for a sports venue in the LEED program and has placed in the top 3 percent of all LEED-certified buildings. It has also received the prestigious 2017 American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies for the best new buildings designed and constructed by American architects.

Hosting concerts, conventions and other sporting and entertainment events, it can accommodate 17,608 spectators for NBA games and is expandable to 19,000 for select events. It's the first arena in the world to be completely solar powered, making it one of the greenest of its kind in the country. Metal helps this highest-tech stadium score.

"California has more green buildings than any other state in the nation and Sacramento's new arena is an example of the elegant design and construction we need to meet our ambitious climate goals," says California Governor Jerry Brown.



Arena owners wanted something uniquely Sacramento. The city was replacing a failing mall and needed to renew a failing district for rejuvenation of the area. It involved working with the wonderful temperature, being able to have indoor-outdoor expression and it needed to meet the stringent California Title 24 Energy standards.

The arena's architect, AECOM, Los Angeles, studied the flow of people and activity through downtown, analyzed microclimates, engaged with the community to understand the city's passions and ambitions, and took inspiration from the region's granite geology. Five massive aircraft-hangar doors, from Schweiss Doors, Hector, Minn., above the grand entrance open and allow the arena to use a natural cooling phenomenon in Sacramento, the Delta Breeze, to control the building's climate efficiently. Visitors to the stadium on the bridge level can look through the bi-fold glass doors to the city outside.

The arena doors are glazed with small-fritted glass. Approximately a quarter of the arena's exterior is glass, also dotted with frits. Frits are tiny ceramic dots, invisible from a distance, that serve to partially block heat from the sun. The doors' low-E safety, laminated, gray glass non-reflective panels prevent birds from flying into them. A public plaza with water-saving gardens welcomes the community year-round.

According to the arena's structural engineer, Thornton Tomasetti Inc., New York City, the 780,000-square-foot arena features high roof trusses that measure 394 feet by 342 feet, including two primary queen-post box trusses that have a total truss depth of 55 feet at mid-span. A repetitive, bent ladder-type framing system was used for the façade. Because the floors of the arena are set back from the façade, the ladders are supported from a ring beam bracketed outside the building columns at the loft level and clear-span to the roof.



The arena's façade of silvery-white aluminum panels from Kovach Building Enclosures, Chandler, Ariz., draws on the Sierra Nevada mountains, particularly Yosemite's Half Dome, for inspiration. The panels jut in and out to give the building a sense of movement. The general contractor was New York City-based Turner Construction Co.

The façade's aluminum panels are embossed with thousands of leaf designs, mimicking the live oak leafs in East Sacramento. The leaves merge to form billowing oak canopies on the building's face. The perforated/reflective metal panels constantly change appearance as the light changes. The façade's installation of metal and glass panels onto a ladder-like framework proved to be a challenge technically because it involved connecting materials that have different expansion and contraction rates. Crews made minute on-site adjustments of the framework using lasers before welding the panels into place.



The arena has sophisticated heating and cooling systems. "Early collaboration in our integrated design approach led to important innovations," says Alastair MacGregor, AECOM's vice president of high-performance buildings. "For example, a first-of-its-kind displacement ventilation system saves energy and improves fan comfort by delivering conditioned air directly beneath the seats and allowing people to influence the temperature through an app on their phones." This is more energy efficient than the conventional approach of blowing cool air down from ducts hung at the high roof level.

According to a 13-month environmental impact analysis, moving the arena downtown will reduce average miles traveled per attendee by 20 percent, cut overall air emissions by 24 percent, and reduce travel-related greenhouse gas emissions per attendee by 36 percent by 2020. In total, the arena is estimated to keep nearly 2,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually out of the atmosphere. This is equivalent to emissions from approximately 4 million vehicle miles.

Nearly 3 miles of sturdy, decorative railing snake throughout the arena. Crafted by Minneapolis-based SC Railing Co., a half-dozen styles of railing composed of mainly recyclable aluminum and glass can be found at the north bridges, grand stairs, players practice facility, concourse areas, and the upper and lower bowls, suites and lofts.

A rooftop solar array, installed by Solar Power Inc. (now SPI Energy Co.), Roseville, Calif., generates up to 1.2 megawatts, augmented by a 11 megawatt solar field in nearby Rancho Seco, operated by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Installing solar power is part of the Sacramento Kings ownership's goal to have its new sports and entertainment center be efficient and use renewable energy.

Nearly all of the construction materials from the former Downtown Plaza were recycled when an existing mall was demolished, and more than a third of the materials used to build the arena were from recycled sources. "We worked with the Kings to design Golden 1 Center for the fans, city and planet," says Bill Hanway, AECOM's global sports leader. "Our architects, sports designers, sustainability experts, engineers, urban planners and landscape architects worked together from the beginning to shape an indoor-outdoor arena that is revitalizing downtown Sacramento and setting a new global standard for sustainability."


Sidebar: Golden 1 Center Key Sustainability Metrics

  • First 100 percent solar-powered professional sports venue
  • 45 percent reduction in water use over stringent California code
  • 30 percent reduction in energy use over stringent California Title 24 code
  • 2,000 fewer tons of annual carbon emissions
  • 99 percent of demolition materials recycled
  • 95 percent of construction waste diverted
  • 36 percent of construction materials from recycled sources
  • 30 percent of construction materials from regional sources
  • 90 percent of food and beverage concessions sourced from within 150 miles
  • First venue to solicit crowd-sourced feedback to maximize fan comfort and minimize energy consumption


Sidebar: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, Calif.

Owner: Sacramento Kings Basketball Holdings
Architect: AECOM, Los Angeles,
General contractor: Turner Construction Co., New York City,
Structural engineer: Thornton Tomasetti Inc., New York City,
Hangar doors: Schweiss Doors, Hector, Minn.,
Metal wall panels: Kovach Building Enclosures, Chandler, Ariz.,
Metal railings: SC Railing Co., Minneapolis,
Photovoltaics: SPI Energy Co., Roseville, Calif.,