Seahawks’ new facility scores on energy savings

Seahawks de-camp from Kirkland to newer, more efficient training facility in Renton.

  • Wednesday, September 10, 2008 11:00am
  • Sports

Football season! Words to make your pulse race if you cheer for a jarring tackle or a long-bomb pass. Yet, for many fans, this is where our knowledge of the game’s convoluted jargon ends.

Consider these snippets of gridiron lexicon: nickel package, dime package, cover two, z-flat split right, hitch-and-go, fumble-rooski.

Today, still more arcane terminology is entering the game, with terms such as electronic commutating motors, 85 percent-efficient natural gas-fired hot water heating, and thermal-mass cooling coming as easily to any aficionado’s lips as John Madden might shout, “Boom!”

Confused? Don’t worry, rookie, even All-Pro veterans might have trouble keeping up with how the game is evolving. Not the game of football, but the game of energy efficiency, as exemplified by the new training center of our own titans in blue and green, the Seattle Seahawks. Not only is it a Taj Mahal of sports (complete with an underwater treadmill!) it’s a showcase for innovative ways to reduce natural gas and electric use.

At 225,000 square feet, the new Virginia Mason Athletic Center dwarfs the team’s former Kirkland facility. Instead of the old “bubble” with only a partial field for practice on rainy days, the new facility has a full-size, 100-yard indoor field complete with goal posts. So how can something so big be energy efficient?

Instead of a conventional heating and air-conditioning system, the ground beneath the field provides what engineers call “thermal mass” cooling and heating effects. The ground area is simply so large, it doesn’t change temperature much over the course of the year, providing cooling in summer and heating in winter.

Believe me, it works. I took a tour on a scorching 90-degree day, but the temperature on the covered field was still comfortably in the mid 70s. Just right for going toe-to-toe with a 300-pound lineman.

With incentives from PSE, the ‘Hawks also put in better-than-code glazing, insulation and lighting, as well as state-of-the-art occupancy sensors to make sure energy is used only where needed, when needed. When our engineers see a chance to help a customer save natural gas or electricity, they tackle it faster than you can say “Lofa Tatupu.”

For the Seahawks, the new facility will get them ready for 16 weekends on the calendar when they’ll need all the energy they can muster, starting this Sunday in Buffalo. For the rest of us, the bottom-line benefits and environmental impact of getting energy efficiency into your game plan will help you score touchdowns with your family, your accountant, and your customers, too.

Seems fitting those snazzy 12th man jerseys are blue – and green, too!

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