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The Orlando Magic haven’t claimed an NBA championship yet, but they can claim one NBA first. The Magic’s home court, The Amway Center, was the first and only professional basketball arena in North America to receive a Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for new construction.

The Amway Center received this certification less than six months after the building opened in 2010. Credit for this quick recognition must include the decision to stress environmental matters — including establishing a sustainability team — during the decade-long planning for this state-of-the-art facility. This commitment led to the Magic exceeding its objective of achieving at least a silver LEED. 

“We promised to create an arena that was civic-oriented, pedestrian-friendly and added to downtown development,” stated Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins at the Gold LEED announcement. “We promised a sustainable arena, and … we have surpassed our goal for LEED certification.” 

Photo Courtesy Orlando Magic News

Sustainability is rooted in the Magic’s choice for the Amway Center. The team built it at an existing area in the city’s downtown area rather than a site where they would have involved leveling land, constructing roads and other infrastructure elements — the extra work would have generated more pollution. The construction contained 20% recycled building materials, while 30% of the materials came from local sources. Furthermore, 83% of the construction waste was recycled rather than winding up in landfills. “We wanted to make sure we brought the most sustainable measures to the construction, so in operation, we can be a good partner to our community and our environment,” explained Martins.

The Amway Center consumes 40% less water than buildings of comparable size. The installation of dual-flush toilets, high-efficiency urinals and lavatory faucets decreased water use from 800,000 to 1.3 million gallons a year.

Storm runoff is treated before it reaches and pollutes nearby lakes. The rainwater and air-conditioning condensation get captured and stored onsite in a 5,000-gallon cistern for irrigation.

Reducing energy costs by 20% was another aim for the Amway Center, which also is home, appropriately enough, to the Orlando Solar Bears minor league hockey team. The minimal use of glass on the building’s exterior and the positioning of the windows enhance energy efficiency. Similarly, the reflective, insulated roof and the arena’s exterior hardscape decrease daytime heat gain and nighttime release. The Amway Center’s high-tech monitoring systems and eco-smart heating and cooling equipment have been estimated to save upwards of $960,000 annually in energy costs.

Starting in the mid-2010s, the Amway Center underwent a major renovation. This work was part of the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge and the City of Orlando’s Greenworks Program; they regularly audit energy usage at prominent local buildings. The team made extensive environmental improvements to the arena’s interior and sports lighting. It replaced 454 sports lighting fixtures with 196 LED ones, while non-sports LED lighting received a one-to-one upgrade. 

Photo Courtesy Orlando Magic News

While much attention has been on the arena’s water and power usage, recycling might have been the first environmental campaign initiated at the Amway Center. During the Amway Center’s planning stages, the team implemented a recycling plan to reduce waste at the Magic’s then-home, the Amway Arena, before being continued at the Center once it opened. The team also collaborated with the nonprofit Rock and Wrap It Up! to deliver the leftover prepared food from games to local food banks and shelters. The Magic also was one of the first teams to put a Pepsi Dream Machine in its facility. These recycling kiosks reward fans for recycling with coupons. 

The Amway Center offers the public more incentives for supporting sustainability. Preferred parking is available for hybrids and other high-efficiency vehicles. There are bike racks, and the Amway Center is easy to reach by bus or light rail.

The use of alternative transportation is promoted to employees, with showers and changing rooms available for those that bike to work.

The Amway Center has hosted many major concerts and sporting events; however, the 2012 NBA All-Star game was the most impactful. This sporting event allowed the Magic to participate in the NBA’s national green programs and make its fans around Orlando and the world “become more environmentally aware,” said Charles Freeman, the Magic’s president of business operations. The Amway Center’s laudable sustainability efforts have led the Natural Resources Defense Council to hail the arena as “a local and national role model for efficiency and environmental stewardship.”

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