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Ford Field Green Team amps up its environmental game

Fort Field
Fort Field

by Kathleen Alexander

Energy efficiency, lower costs and spectator experience were all factors that led Ford Field to make plans for a greener future. From recycled water to LED lighting, new initiatives at the Detroit Lions stadium should make everyone a fan.

Transitioning 650 1,500 watt traditional bulbs to 264 1,400 watt LED bulbs throughout the 1,800,000 square feet building was no easy project, but director of facilities at Ford Field, Fred Reddig, tells Kirk Heinze on how and why the organization is making green investments.

The organization's dedication to keeping it green from the grass to the roof was partially inspired by the Michigan Battle of the Buildings program, which encourages water and energy savings within a friendly competition.

“As an organization we’re committed to sustainability, and as a part of that organization and the director of facilities I am very much in tune with that,” he says. “Every day at work I try to look for energy savings and ways that we can be more sustainable.”

Reddig was not only able to cut energy usage by switching to LED bulbs but save on cooling, too. The LED lights that illuminate the stadium today have cooling fans at the back of the bulb that keep the bright lights from omitting heat, he says, along with the equally important benefit of offering more vivid, crisper images to the people sitting in the stands and watching on TV.

In addition to the organization creating ways to cut energy usage in half, Reddig has developed ways to double the uses of water. He explains that water used for cooling is softened, allowing it to be recycled twice as many times.

“A lot of that water is evaporated off as it's heated up and cools the refrigerant down,” He reveals. “On a regular cooling tower you could reuse water four times, but after softening the water it can be used up to eight times.”

Reddig explains that the decision to restore rather than replace the stadium roof was also a practical and environmentally-friendly move. By only replacing 5 percent of the roof and restoring the rest with a coating, Ford Field was able to refresh the Lions logo and prevent material from ending up in landfill.

But the ambition for savings doesn’t end there. By working with the building’s Green Team, composed of staff and tenants, Reddig plans to reduce bathroom water usage next.

“That is going to be my goal over the next couple of years,” says Reddig. “I want to start focusing on a lot of the new, different types of sustainable technology out there.”

Greening of the Great Lakes airs inside MSU Today Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on AM 870.

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