Solar Panels to Help Power Qwest Field Event Center

Technology maximizes sunlight even on cloudy days

SEATTLE, Wash. - The Seattle Seahawks, Sounders FC and First and Goal Inc. (FGI) announced today they will install the largest solar energy array to date in the state of Washington on the roof of Qwest Field Event Center.

The project will consist of 3,750 individual solar panels manufactured in the United States by California based Solyndra. Using the latest thin-film technology, the panels will capture both direct and reflected sunlight across a unique 360 degree cylinder-type surface. The panels take advantage of the facility's new white "cool roof" which conserves energy by reducing the amount of heat absorbed by the roof surface and lowering the need for building cooling. The system will cover over 2.5 acres, or approximately 80% of the Event Center roof.

The panels are projected to generate over 830,000 kWh of electricity annually, the equivalent of powering 95 Seattle area homes for a year. The system is expected to be fully operational in late summer 2011.

The Event Center solar array is the latest in a series of "green" investments in professional sports venues made by Seattle Seahawks chairman Paul G. Allen. Earlier this year the Portland Trail Blazers, also owned by Allen, were the first major sports team to earn LEED Gold status for an existing major league sports arena.

The team has hired Seattle-based McKinstry, a full service design-build firm specializing in energy solutions, to install the solar array in addition to developing a comprehensive resource conservation project for Qwest Field and Event Center. McKinstry has identified modifications to reduce energy and water usage throughout the complex, including high-efficiency lighting and mechanical system upgrades as well as installation of ultra-low flow water fixtures.

"We are committed to being good environmental stewards of this world-class facility and we hope these projects will serve as a catalyst to further support clean technology and resource conservation growth within Washington State and the Pacific Northwest," said Peter McLoughlin, president of the Seahawks, Sounders FC and FGI.

The combined projects will result in a 21% reduction in annual utility costs as well as a reduction in carbon emissions of 1,346 metric tons per year. By comparison, this is the equivalent of removing 260 cars from Seattle roadways or planting 278 football fields with evergreen trees. The significant investment in energy and water reduction measures was made possible through conservation rebates provided by Seattle's two main utilities, Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities. Through partnerships made with the electrical union, these projects will also provide clean technology job training opportunities for local trades' people. 

The team and McKinstry are developing an ongoing public outreach component which will include educational programming around sustainability and resource conservation.

"McKinstry is excited to partner with the Seahawks, Sounders FC and FGI," said McKinstry CEO Dean Allen. "We hope to use this great project to further inspire, educate and inform the public about how they can participate in fostering environmental stewardship within our communities."

Since the opening of Qwest Field and Event Center, the Seahawks, Sounders FC and FGI have encouraged fan involvement in their sustainability goals through recycling and composting programs. Now, fans will be able to track the current and total energy produced via the new solar array as well as track the facilities progress against their energy reduction goals through on-site educational kiosks. 

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