Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Fiserv Forum Wins Environmental Award

Milwaukee Bucks arena is now certified LEED Gold.

By - Jan 14th, 2022 02:35 pm
Fiserv Forum. Photo taken May 12th, 2021 by Dave Reid.

Fiserv Forum. Photo taken May 12th, 2021 by Dave Reid.

Fiserv Forum was recognized Friday by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for its improved environmental design and operation.

The nonprofit organization awarded the arena its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in a ceremony in the building’s lobby.

It’s an upgrade from a 2019 award of LEED Silver for the Milwaukee Bucks arena. The team scored well for using low flush toilets, compostable packaging and paper straws, native plants, electric car charging stations, environmentally-friendly cleaning products and reduced emission construction materials.

“The Milwaukee Bucks seized an opportunity to guarantee Fiserv Forum ensures a more sustainable, energy-efficient and healthy environment to allow our visitors and employees a healthier quality of life in our building,” said Dennis Williams, the arena’s general manager and senior vice president, in a statement. “We are very proud of our efforts and stewardship in the community while providing first-class entertainment and championship basketball at Fiserv Forum.”

Building owners and operators must apply for the LEED accreditation, which is scored on a category-based points system. A FacilitiesNet report says certification costs can range from $20,000 to $60,000 per attempt, in addition to the costs to design and build the necessary environmentally-friendly infrastructure.

The Bucks worked with Greenwood Consulting Group and the USGBC’s Arc platform to develop performance metrics for energy use, air quality, waste creation, transportation impacts and water consumption. The platform allows the facility to be compared to its peers.

“Fiserv Forum has set the bar for the sports and entertainment industry by demonstrating how sustainable design, construction and operations not only reduce energy costs and the impact on the environment but enhance the fan experience with a state-of-the-art facility,” said Nate Manning, president of Johnson Controls North America Building Solutions. “Johnson Controls is proud to provide the energy efficient equipment, technologies and OpenBlue solutions that help drive forward Fiserv Forum’s commitment to sustainability and carbon neutrality.”

The team announced a partnership with SC Johnson in 2021 to recycle at least one million plastic cups from the arena and surrounding Deer District businesses. The cups will ultimately be reused in the consumer products company’s Scrubbing Bubbles bottles.

“Plastic waste is one of the great environmental challenges we face today, which is why we are proud to work with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Fiserv Forum to implement a closed-loop recycling process starting this season. It’s especially gratifying that this work contributed to Fiserv Forum’s LEED Gold certification,” said H. Fisk Johnson, SC Johnson chairman and CEO.

Fiserv Forum recorded a score of 75 in its most recent appraisal. A score of 80 and above would qualify it for the highest standard, LEED Platinum.

“Fiserv Forum’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of USGBC. “LEED was created to make the world a better place and revolutionize our buildings and communities by providing everyone with access to healthy, green and high-performing buildings. Fiserv Forum is a prime example of how the innovative work of project teams can create local solutions that contribute to making a global difference.”

The Milwaukee Bucks’ training center was recertified as LEED Silver in October. Under a different scoring rubric, it earned two fewer points than when it was originally certified as silver in 2019.

A couple dozen other buildings and office projects in the Milwaukee area are LEED certified. The Sage on Jackson and Sage on Prospect apartment buildings are both certified as platinum. The Zurn Headquarters is certified gold, as is Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons. The housing authority’s Victory Manor at Westlawn Gardens is gold certified. The new owners of the 310W building achieved a gold certification last year. Marquette University‘s The Commons student housing facility at Marquette is silver certified. American Family Field achieved the base level certification in 2012.

The Brewery District development, located just northwest of Fiserv Forum, was one of the first neighborhoods in the country to be certified as LEED Platinum. The St. Anthony Apartments affordable housing development, just west of the arena, is certified gold.

The environmental standard has been criticized for “greenwashing” as some applicants appear to have gamed the point system or buildings haven’t saved as much energy as predicted. The complicated nature of LEED can be seen in Wisconsin where at least one Kwik Trip gas station is certified gold and a number of Starbucks cafes with drive-thrus have reached the base certification.

The Bucks’ 730,000-square-foot arena opened in 2018. The 17,500-seat arena complex cost $524 million to construct, including a $250 million public contribution from the state, county and city.

Construction of the building was led by Mortenson Construction. It was designed by Populous, with support from Milwaukee-firm Eppstein Uhen Architects.

It is owned by the Wisconsin Center District and leased to the Milwaukee Bucks. The team is responsible for its upkeep and operation.

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One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Fiserv Forum Wins Environmental Award”

  1. David Coles says:

    These certifications are pretty meaningless if buildings are not built to last hundreds of years. Let’s hope the new arena lasts longer than its predecessor, which was demolished a mere 30 years after it was built. What a waste.

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