Audi Field, the new home for the D.C. United soccer team, is slated to have solar panels installed this fall. Solar energy company New Columbia Solar says that the panels they plan to put on the canopy will provide roughly one million kilowatt hours of solar power annually, enough to offset nearly one third of the stadium’s projected electricity usage.
The installation of 884 KW of building-integrated solar panels, along with other energy efficiency measures, should save the soccer team around $125,000 annually in utility bills, according to New Columbia Solar (NCS).
“As a local Washington, DC company, we are thrilled to be a part of the effort to provide clean energy resources to Audi stadium,” said Mike Healy, CEO of New Columbia Solar.
Major League Soccer franchise D.C. United earned LEED Gold certification for Audi Field, Ellen Schneider wrote in the Washington Business Journal. Citing the US Green Building Council, she added that there are currently 30 LEED-certified venues similar to the stadium either in use or under construction.
Officially opening on Saturday, the stadium replaced decaying RFK Stadium as D.C. United team’s new home. “Costing nearly a half-billion dollars, the stadium will seat 20,000 soccer fans and already has 10,000 season ticket holders,” ABC7’s Sam Ford reported in June.
Despite the big numbers, Audi Field’s development has faced several challenges. Transportation and tailgating options remain challenges. DCist’s Pablo Iglesias Maurer reported last month that the stadium was originally billed as a fully enclosed venue with a capacity of 25,000, but the relatively small footprint necessitated design changes.
“The presence of an adjacent Pepco facility has required an easement under the stadium to allow the power company access to subterranean wires, forcing the venue’s entire east grandstand to be erected above and around it,” he wrote.
In addition, plans for a striking full roof were changed to a pair of much smaller overhangs that extend over the east and west grandstands. One source told Iglesias Maurer that this created issues with sun shining directly into cameras. After his article was published, a franchise representative said that the club has additional camera positions in the stadium.
With the addition of solar panels this fall, the stadium will join a growing list of sports venues that incorporate photovoltaics. Last year the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with its 39,312 panels, was number one on Solarplaza’s list of the top 10 solar stadiums and sports venues. In December, Bjarke Ingels Group published plans for a sports stadium and entertainment center called East Austin District that will have rooftop photovoltaic panels.