Onondaga has a strong commitment to sustainability. Sustainable principles were incorporated throughout the design and construction of the SRC Arena and Events Center. The SRC Arena earned LEED Gold certification from the Green Building Certification Institute. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a third-party certification system that ensures buildings are designed and constructed using green building principles. The green features of the building are documented by the building design and construction firms and this information is reviewed by an independent team of experts to verify that specific green building criteria were met.
The SRC Arena and Events Center is well utilized by Onondaga Community College students and employees, and members of the community. The building hosts many events and sporting activities, and it is also home to the Southwest chapter of the YMCA of Greater Syracuse. The building is approximately 100,000 square feet and has a capacity of approximately 6,500 people. The sustainable features of the building not only help to reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with the building, but they also provide a better atmosphere to work, learn, and play.
For more information about the SRC Arena and Events Center and Onondaga Community College’s sustainability program, please contact Sean Vormwald, Director of Sustainability, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-498-2847. Educational tours of the building are also available to the public and the campus community.
Green features of the SRC Arena:
The first aspect of designing a green building is to consider where you will put the building and what the corresponding environmental impacts will be. In order to preserve wildlife habitat, the College set aside green space in another part of campus equal to twice the size of the building. This is consistent with Onondaga’s Sustainable Landscape Master Plan, which provides guidelines for managing the College’s landscaping in a sustainable manner such as maintaining wildlife habitat, using native plant species, and preserving green space on campus. The College has grown meadows and wildflowers throughout campus to enhance wildlife habitat and to reduce the fuel required to mow the lawn.
The building site was also designed to effectively manage stormwater runoff in an environmentally sensitive way. An infiltration basin was installed that captures stormwater runoff from the site. This prevents contaminants from entering nearby water sources and reduces the flow of stormwater during heavy rain events. This is particularly important for our region considering the combined sewer overflow problems throughout the City of Syracuse, which is downstream from the College.
Another sustainable aspect of the building is that it is located next to a bus stop to encourage public transportation. It’s better for the environment when people take the bus rather than drive to campus. The College provides a 20% discount for students who purchase a bus pass. Onondaga also promotes carpooling through an online carpool matching program called Carpool OCC. The College installed bike lanes to encourage bike ridership, and we installed two electric vehicle charging stations to encourage people to drive electric vehicles to campus. All of these types of alternative transportation reduce negative environmental impacts.
The building was designed to use considerably less water than a conventional building. The faucets, toilets, and urinals are very water efficient. The women’s rooms feature dual-flush toilets that allow you to choose between full flush for solids or reduced flush for liquids. The men’s rooms have urinals that use only a pint of water, compared with a regular urinal that uses a gallon. All of these efforts pay off for conserving water. In fact, the building as a whole uses about 35% less water than a conventional building. Some people may think that saving water is not a significant priority in this area considering we have abundant freshwater sources nearby. However, it takes a tremendous amount of resources to purify water before we use it, and even more energy to treat wastewater after we flush it down the drain. Saving water saves money, reduces the energy impact of the building, and conserves water, which can be beneficial in times of drought even in this region.
Another feature of the bathrooms that you’ll notice is the electric hand dryers. These have a much lower impact on the environment compared with paper towels. Onondaga is currently phasing out paper towels and switching to electric hand dryers in order to reduce costs and the College’s environmental impact.
The exterior of the building was also designed so that the landscaping doesn’t require irrigation. The project used drought tolerant vegetation that doesn’t require watering. This avoids the need to use a tremendous amount of water on the lawn and shrubs. Overall, the College doesn’t have any permanently installed irrigation for landscaping, which significantly reduces our water consumption.
The size and open configuration of the building presents many challenges from an energy management standpoint. It is difficult to heat and light a large building like this. Fortunately, the building was designed to be energy efficient. The lighting and HVAC systems use energy efficient technologies such as high efficiency heating and cooling units, heat recovery systems, high performance lighting, and occupancy sensors. As a result, the building consumes about 26% less energy than a conventional building of this type. The College is already seeing reduced operating costs as a result of the building’s energy efficient design.
Something else that helps with the efficiency of the building is that the College hired a third-party company to commission the building’s systems. Engineers reviewed the project design throughout the process. After the building was constructed, they verified that everything was built and installed according to the plans, and that everything was functioning properly. The commissioning process helps to run the building more efficiently by ensuring everything is operating as it should be.
Another sustainable feature of the HVAC system is that it was designed to minimize refrigerants that contribute to global warming and ozone depletion. Gases from air conditioning systems can leak from the units and contribute to environmental problems. The system was design to reduce the environmental impact of this phenomenon.
Onondaga also purchases wind energy in order to offset the environmental impacts of the electricity for the building. The College purchased Renewable Energy Certificates, also known as RECs, to cover 100% of the building’s electricity use for two years. Overall, Onondaga purchases RECs to cover 30% of the College’s electricity.
The College has a campus wide recycling program that we’ve implemented in this building. During the construction of this building, most of the waste produced was diverted from the trash. In fact, 93% of all waste was either reused or recycled. Materials such as metal, cardboard, concrete, asphalt, and drywall were all diverted from going to a landfill or incinerator. The project diverted over 4,300 tons of materials. Also, this building was constructed on a spot where there were once tennis courts. The tennis courts were ground up and used as a sub-base for the roadway and walkways.
The building materials themselves also contain recycled content. Recycling significantly reduces the energy and natural resources that go into making materials, so recycled content is much better for the environment than virgin materials. 33% percent of the building materials contain recycled content. For example, the track in the SRC Arena contains 36% pre-consumer recycled content. The ceiling tile, metal doors, carpet tile, and structural steel also contain recycled content.
Many of the building materials were also manufactured in this region, which significantly reduces the environmental impacts associated with transporting the materials from long distances. Purchasing regional materials is also good for the local economy. For example, the concrete used for the floor was manufactured locally. Also, some of the structural steel for the project was manufactured less than ten miles away at a company on Thompson Road in Syracuse. Overall, about 23% of the building materials came from within 500 miles of the project location.
Much of the wood for the project was also sustainably grown. A non-profit organization, called the Forest Stewardship Council, certifies wood products to ensure that they were produced in a sustainable manner. 91% of the new wood used for the project was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, including the lumber for the project and the wooden doors throughout the building.
In addition to all the green features of the building that reduce environmental impacts, it is also important to create a healthy place for our students, employees, and other people who use the building. An important aspect of a healthy building is to prevent contaminants from entering the building. Walk-off mats are located at each building entrance. The mats collect dirt, moisture, and other debris so that it doesn’t get tracked in throughout the building. The mats are cleaned regularly to ensure that they are functioning properly.
The materials used for the building followed strict guidelines related to maintaining healthy indoor air quality. The adhesives and sealants, paints and coatings, flooring systems, and composite wood products were all low-emitting materials, meaning they do not release Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. Many traditional building materials and products release VOCs, which can cause headaches, eye and throat irritation, and other negative health effects. Especially in a building where people are exercising, it is important to have healthy air to breathe.
Another aspect of creating a good experience for the people in the building is to allow the building users to control the lights and heat. The offices and conference rooms have light switches and thermostats so people can adjust the light levels and temperature to suit their needs. These may sound like simple functions of the building, but they can make all the difference of whether you enjoy your experience in the building.
Many of the sustainable features of the SRC Arena and Events Center can applied to your own home. Please see the information below to learn about green strategies you can practice at home. Visit the LEED for Homes website to learn how to incorporate other green features into your home. Visit the U.S. Green Building Council New York Upstate Chapter to learn about green building educational events happening in the region.
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