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Energy initiatives light up SAP Center ahead of 2019 NHL All-Star Game

Sharks arena more efficient, fan friendly with LED bulbs, other measures

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

SAP Center is doing its best to be more than just a hockey arena. By taking major steps with sustainability initiatives, it's doing its best to be a good community neighbor.

One of those initiatives will be obvious to fans attending the 2019 NHL All-Star Skills on Friday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS) and the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS), or watching from home.

LED lighting was installed during the summer and unveiled during the Sharks' preseason opener. Partnering with PLANLED on the project, the switch has provided an upgrade in all facets of the game-night presentation. 

"It's like watching almost the same change from standard definition to high definition on TV," said Rich Sotelo, vice president of building operations for SAP Center. "It's night and day. The fans love it here, it looks better on TV, the broadcasters love it because it balances the color easier. We've had very positive feedback from the players."

The switch from 1,000-watt bulbs to the 400-watt LED bulbs reduced the amount of energy used by half as well cutting the cost to power them by half.

"We were using on a per-game basis 2,112,000 watts per game," Sotelo said. "That includes the morning skate, the warmup ... throughout the day. We're now using 1,037,000 watts. Half the wattage and half the cost."

The LED lighting has been so well-received it's being installed throughout SAP Center.

"We're changing all the main building lights, the work lights over the bowl during set-up and clean-up," Sotelo said. "All around our main concourses and the exterior of the buildings, the roof lights, we've changed those to LED as well."

PLANLED lighting also has been installed at Solar4America Ice at San Jose, the four-rink facility that serves as the Sharks' practice site. 

Upgraded lighting is the most obvious, but not the only environmentally friendly aspect of SAP Center. The arena has used Bloom Energy Servers since October 2012, allowing it to generate in-house 25 percent of the energy used in the building for Sharks games, and 80 percent of the energy used on non-gamedays.

At the time of installation, SAP Center was the first multipurpose arena to use fuel cell technology as a supplemental electricity source.

"The efficiency is through the roof because we're generating and tying it into our (electric) panels 100 feet from where it's generated, as opposed to in some cases hundreds of miles (away), where dams or power plants come through transmission and distribution facilities," Sotelo said. "So the efficiency is way up there and we lessen the load on the (power) grid."

The Sharks also use Bloom Energy Servers at Solar4America Ice.

"By doing this process we're not only reducing the load on the grid but we're saving substantial energy by generating it more efficiently on-site," Sotelo said.

SAP Center also has upgraded its bathroom facilities to conserve as much water as possible. A recent retrofit of the club level toilets saves more than 240,000 gallons of water during the hockey season. SAP Center also uses a post-separation facility to sort its trash. That allows the building to divert about 80 percent of its garbage into composting and recycling, rather than a landfill.

Sotelo said SAP Center and the Sharks will continue to seek more ways to be a good environmental partner, for the All-Star Game and beyond.

"We continue to undertake and spend money on sustainability initiatives," he said. "It supports both the environment, the utility provider and it meets the San Jose green goals because the city of San Jose has green goals and this helps because it is a city-owned building. This helps contribute to the green goals of the city overall."


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