Solar Energy Shines a New Light on Sports Facility Design
It’s time for sports facility owners and managers to shift the paradigm from focusing solely on how much utility cost can be saved from solar installations to how dynamic solar architecture can increase branding and marketing opportunities and even how a solar asset can improve operational revenue.
Financial questions are understandable, although solar technology has long demonstrated its economic viability. According to solar industry data compiled by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), this industry has experienced a compound annual growth rate of more than 60% and the cost to install solar has dropped by more than 60% over the last 10 years.
A primary reason is its financial attractiveness – The Business Energy Federal Investment Tax Credit provides relief for a variety of renewable energy technologies. In addition, the advent of third party solar providers eliminates the need for capital outlay and offers attractive leasing options for ownership.
Solar architecture is a proven strategy that can develop a green energy utility that goes beyond serving as an energy provider to also functioning as a revenue generator and marketing asset. With sports and events rating as among the most effective sponsorship platforms for advertisers, solar structures provide a means to affix signage at athletic and entertainment venues that not only facilitates branding opportunities, but also presents a new source of income for owners.
At DLR Group, we are continually developing designs that foster collaboration, build community and enhance the user experience. No longer is the game the only show in town. Fans look at their sports arenas as a venue to congregate with friends and be entertained. It’s not unusual for them to spend more time congregating outside the stadium before and after the game, than actually inside watching the event.
Place making has been facilitated by constructing canopies installed with solar technologies over open spaces to provide protection from the elements and create a gathering space. Rather than losing fans to other venues, owners/operators keep them and their purchasing power on site with these amenities. Following the construction of the solar canopy for Patriot's Place at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the facility saw a 14 percent traffic increase, and sales grew by 11 percent in comparison to the national average of 7 percent.
Solar architecture offers organizations a platform to integrate corporate social responsibility into the strategic business plan and market it to key audiences. Surveys indicate there is a growing trend for the public to support businesses that have a positive impact on the environment. It is a challenge both designers and facility owners/operators are embracing.
For more on how stadiums are successfully utilizing solar installations, read these case studies for American Airlines Arena in Miami, Fla., and Patriot’s Place at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.