Energy > Energy Audit

During an energy efficiency audit, a trained engineer conducts an analysis of your sports facilities’ energy use and identifies opportunities for enhanced efficiency that are likely to save your sports departments or institution money and improve your environmental performance. transferred

Facilities staff on your campus can help commission energy audits to identify opportunities for resource conservation and financial savings in your sports facilities, which can result in recommendations for various infrastructure upgrades and improvements to building management systems. Sustainability staff (and/or faculty) may also be able to help identify energy opportunities across sports facilities.

Your facilities staff may have the expertise to conduct energy audits themselves; if not, many utilities provide free energy efficiency audits for large commercial operations. Contact your energy provider to find out if they offer a free or subsidized energy audit or other low-cost options for evaluating your facility’s energy use. Many utilities will also assist your sports departments in finding rebates, subsidies and other incentives for energy efficiency improvements.

Your sports departments may also want to consult an energy service company (ESCO), which can conduct an energy audit and finance and install energy efficiency improvements, sometimes in exchange for a share of the energy cost savings. For a directory of ESCOs, visit the National Association of Energy Service Companies database.


An energy efficiency audit analyzes and evaluates your sports departments’ existing energy use with an eye towards financial savings. Individual audits can vary, but they are likely to cover the following items:

  • Available incentives
    • Equipment rebates
    • Time-of-use discounts
    • Tax rebates and credits
  • Baseline energy use profile
  • Building envelope improvements
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems
    • Retrofit and replacement
    • Improved schedules
    • Improved placement of thermostats and air sensors
    • Improved computer programs
  • Lighting
    • Installation of timers and automatic sensors
    • Replacement of light fixtures and bulbs
    • Improved scheduling
  • Plumbing improvements
    • Identification of leaks
    • Improved pipe insulation
  • Overall design of your sports departments’ energy management program
  • Solar and wind power feasibility studies


Student involvement in sports greening initiatives can reduce demands on staff time and departmental resources. Student involvement can also help attract support from facilities, athletics, recreation, campus administration, and other departments. The following idea is one example of a task for students to conduct in your sports facilities. This preliminary student project could help facilitate interest in conducting energy audits across all sports facilities. Consider encouraging interested students to do the following:

Lighting Facilities Audit:

Complete a walkthrough audit of lighting types, sensors and uses throughout all sports facilities. Identify and map current all lighting with automatic sensors. If possible, also map all installed CFL and LED lighting. Check each to confirm all sensors and lights are working. Flag any faulty lighting or sensors. Identify floors or entire facilities without sensors and suggest locations for installing sensors. Consider writing up a business plan to encourage installing additional lighting sensors. Also record automated interior or exterior lighting that is on an inappropriate times. Write up a suggested lighting schedule to improve the lighting efficiency across necessary sports facilities.

Visit the relevant page in this guide for more ideas for Student-Led Project Ideas.


Conducting energy audits of your sports facilities can help your institution earn points within the “Energy” subcategory of AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). It can directly contribute to earning 6 points for the credit “OP 8: Building Energy Consumption.” Work with sustainability and facilities staff on your campus to support any institutional efforts to attain or improve your institution’s STARS rating. Use the STARS 2.0 Technical Manual to learn more.


Electric power plants are the country’s largest industrial source of the pollutants that cause global warming, acid rain, and mercury poisoning in lakes and rivers. For most sports departments and institutions, energy consumption is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, which cause global climate change.

By conducting an energy audit, your department can identify ways to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels and its emission of greenhouse gases, as well as other pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (causes acid rain), nitrous oxide (creates ground level ozone and causes respiratory disease), mercury (poisons streams and lakes and causes neurological damage), and fine particulate matter (causes respiratory disease).


>> In 2010, University of Minnesota Athletics staff partnered with UM’s energy management department to complete an energy recommissioning study of eight existing athletic facilities. The study revealed so much energy-saving potential that energy conservation measures were implemented in all eight athletic facilities, yielding more than $412,000 in avoided utility costs annually for Minnesota Athletics. Many of the upgrades had payback periods of less than one year. For example, though TCF Bank Stadium was the newest building on campus in 2010, the operations team still saved over $130,000 from recommissioning.

“Some of the original controls’ programming and design used more outside air on non-event days, thus increasing our steam consumption. We took a detailed look at our sequencing and partnered with the energy management’s team to identify those variations and modify mechanical automation controls accordingly, resulting in savings for the facility of $131,000 in energy costs each year,” says Derek Hillestad, director of operations at TCF Bank Stadium.

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> The University of Connecticut’s Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center became the NCAA’s first LEED-certified building when it was completed in the summer of 2006. UConn Athletics achieved LEED Silver certification for the football complex by incorporating a variety of environmentally preferable features into the venue design. The energy-efficient features have helped the facility cut energy use by 35 percent below 1999 ASHRAE standards, saving $35,000 to $40,000 per year. To learn more, read the full feature in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> In 2008, University of California, Berkeley upgraded the Recreational Sports Facility Field House lighting system to reduce energy use, lower maintenance costs, and provide better lighting in the gyms. Throughout the Field House, existing light fixtures were replaced with high-efficiency, high-output fluorescent lamps and transformers, which were equipped with occupancy sensors that switch off lights automatically when an area has been unoccupied for 20 minutes. Energy use was cut by 252,000 kilowatt-hours per year for a savings of $25,000 annually. The total cost for the lighting improvement project was approximately $114,000, 80 percent of which was covered by a grant from Pacific Gas and Electric. Thus, the net cost was $23,000, which was recouped in less than a year. The reduction in energy use also removes the equivalent of 132,000 pounds of CO2 per year from the air. To learn more, read the full feature in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.


>> While the up-front investment in major greening upgrades can be significant, the payoff is nearly always greater. After conducting an energy audit, the Portland Trail Blazers invested $560,000 in operations improvements around the Moda Center in 2008. By 2011 the team had recouped $411,000 in energy savings, with a total savings of $836,000.

“As of the end of the 2011 calendar year, we have saved close to $1 million while investing about $500,000, in less than three years,” says Justin Zeulner, former director of sustainability for the Trail Blazers. “We forecast that our savings will reach over $1 million by the end of 2012.”

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> After conducting an energy efficiency audit to identify potential areas of improvement, STAPLES Center implemented numerous lighting and equipment upgrades in 2012, replacing more than 3,000 halogen fixtures with LEDs to save approximately $80,000 annually in energy costs.

“Beyond energy savings, rebates from the utility and lowered labor costs also bring down the costs of this investment,” notes Sam Kropp, vice president of building operations for STAPLES Center and Nokia Theatre L.A. Live. “We had our capital outlay and then the utility reimbursed us for a portion of that cost. And, I think most notably, it’s the lack of labor needed to change these incandescent bulbs day in and day out that is most appealing. We have about 160 suites that basically had a minimum of six fixtures each, and now we’ve replaced all that with LEDs. That’s a big savings we realized there.”

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> In October 2010, the Orlando Magic’s Amway Center became the first LEED Gold–certified designed and constructed professional basketball arena in North America. High-efficiency systems at the Amway Center consume approximately 25 percent less energy than a comparable code-compliant design. This saves nearly $750,000 a year. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> In 2008, the USTA commissioned an environmental audit of the National Tennis Center that led to the implementation of many changes, including adding energy-efficient systems such as individually-controlled temperature zones and variable frequency drives, which have reduced the amount of energy used by 168,000 kWh per year (representing an annual savings of $34,000 and a reduction of 70 metric tons of CO2 per year). To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.


AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)
AASHE STARS 2.0 Technical Manual
Step by step example of auditing methodology
EPA – Greenhouse Gas Emissions Calculator
EPA – Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Environmental Benefits and Cost Savings Calculator for Purchasers
Energy Star Savings Calculators
Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency