How the Atlanta Falcons’ New Stadium Helped Reduce the Area’s Flooding Issues

via YouTube

via YouTube

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, was completed in late 2017.  The impressive structure had a hefty price tag of $1.4 billion, but it has already played host to several of the biggest events in sports, including the 2018 College Football National Championship and the recent 2019 NFL Superbowl.  In addition to playing a large role in the sports world, it’s also playing a large role environmentally for the area surrounding the stadium.

According to Accuweather, the new stadium is built on top of the Proctor Creek Watershed, which has the nasty habit of flooding during heavy rain events. Not only that, but the watershed is “plagued with pollution erosion and high bacteria levels,” which poses significant health risks for the surrounding communities, the EPA says.

On its way to alleviating at least some of those flooding issues, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium design team, HOK, and the joint venture construction group HHRM JV, achieved a LEED Platinum rating. Out of a 100 point maximum, the stadium totaled 88 points, making it the highest of any sports venue.

Several of those points came from water efficient landscaping, innovative wastewater technologies, water use reduction, and stormwater design – quantity control, according to the USGBC’s webpage on the project. The last one, “stormwater design – quantity control,” was achieved by installing several bioswales to divert water from storm lines and improve the water quality. Bioswales are low lying areas that are lined with either vegetation, rock, or other natural filtration materials.

The design also featured a 680,000 gallon cistern for rainwater harvesting, which is then used for landscape irrigation and a cooling tower on site. Stadiums create a large amount of impervious land area from not only the building itself, but from the surrounding parking area.  That concentrates and speeds up the collection of storm water, which contributes to flooding.  Collecting rainwater and reusing it not only aids in the conservation of water, but also aids in flooding reduction.

Stadium project costs have reached unearthly levels over the past decade, but many have at least done some public good, even outside of sports.  Another recent example of this was the Milwaukee Bucks’ new area, which has been touted as the “world’s first bird friendly arena” after it incorporated many design elements to reduce the amount of birds that are killed by flying into buildings with large amounts of glass.

Although most construction companies in the country will not be involved in a project as large as this billion dollar stadium, these projects can still serve as good examples of why some governmental regulations are in place. I’ve heard a lot of negative grumbling about following Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans in my career, but the storm water controls that are mandated, if installed and maintained correctly, can help reduce flooding, pollution, and water quality for the surrounding areas.  It may seem annoying to have to repair that silt fence every few days, but slowing down and filtering runoff is a part of being a good neighbor.

Below is a video explaining more about the Mercedes-Benz LEED Platinum process: