Green: an adjective used to describe behaviors, products, policies, standards, processes, movements or ideas that protect, restore or minimize damage to the environment.
Whether the color or the adjective, both are found in recreation centers around the world. Plus, the going green is a trend that’s growing.
According to Van Stark, the west regional sales manager for SportsArt, this is because the priority to protect the environment is growing, especially with the emerging Gen Z. “Ten years ago, only 40% of U.S. adults believed protecting the environment was a top priority,” said Stark. “Today that number is over 60% and over 80% in the Gen Z segment, with 72% of respondents under the age of 20 willing to pay more for sustainable products and offerings.”
Considering recreation centers are prime stops on campus tours to attract incoming Gen Z students, utilizing your facility’s green features will help your campus stand out from the crowd.
Incorporating Green Efforts
At Santa Clara University, many green efforts are incorporated, but Janice DeMonsi, the director of Recreation, shared some of the efforts she’s most proud of are the small ones:
- Powered by Sweat stickers on 39 pieces of self-generated energy cardio equipment.
- Using five minutes of each staff meeting to educate on sustainability, whether through policy reminders or educational videos on YouTube.
- Motion sensor lights in less-utilized rooms.
- A partnership with TerraCycle to help limit waste and recycle items that are not usually recycled.
- Tarping the pool daily to limit water evaporation.
“Sustainability is one of the NIRSA strategic values, so one of the things campus rec professionals need to remember is it’s OK to start small, whether that be adding dual flush toilets in the locker rooms or looking at all of the paper you print,” said DeMonsi. “It’s important for us to make changes and to make an impact.”
Showing that You’re Going Green
Because recreation facilities can be big energy users, having a focus on minimizing use can have a large impact on the environment and the way incoming students view your institution overall. Bill Massey, a sports practice leader, architect and principal at Sasaki, said don’t be shy about advertising any achieved goals in green design.
“Students demand it, and these are your customers,” said Massey. “They will appreciate your responsiveness and attention as it relates to green design initiatives.”
To prioritize energy reduction in your facility, Massey shared four considerations:
- Contemplate a power purchase agreement with a third-party provider to implement photovoltaics on your project to offset your electricity and operational costs.
- If you’re designing a new building, strategically place glass and glazing in accordance with their solar orientation.
- Encourage natural ventilation with operable windows where possible. Also, provide demand-based ventilation as part of your mechanical system.
- Consider changing temperature set points on your thermostats to have significant energy saving impacts.
Going green doesn’t have to be a single, large or even expensive project. Stark noted every time you need to replace or upgrade equipment, repair or renovate spaces, or perform routine maintenance, you have an opportunity to make your facility greener.
EXTRA CREDIT: How campus rec facilities across the U.S. are transforming and educating others about the future of sustainability through becoming LEED certified.
“Look for green incentives and regional programs through federal, state and local agencies,” he said. “Your local utility company is a great place to start — tax credits, rebates for equipment or grants demonstrating sustainability in your community can be found.”
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock
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