Levi's Stadium sets standard for conserving natural resources

The $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., is home to the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and a model of sustainability. Its 27,000-square-foot green roof and owners suites are decked out in reclaimed wood, and its farm-to-table concessions offerings are top notch. But none of the green features are more crucial to operations than the use of recycled water for the flushing and irrigation systems.

Up to 85 percent of all water use in the 68,500-seat stadium will be from recycled water used for toilet flushing and playing field and green roof irrigation. The recycled-water pressure booster system built by California Hydronics Corp. (CHC) using Xylem’s Bell & Gossett brand products, taps into the Santa Clara Valley Water District water recycling system. This eliminates the need to use freshwater to flush toilets and to irrigate the natural grass field, green roof and other areas, which is of particular concern in drought-ridden California.

"A recycled-water pressure booster system ensures adequate water is available when everyone goes to the bathroom at one time, like halftime at a football game," said Mark Handzel, vice president of product regulatory affairs, and director of HVAC commercial buildings at Bell & Gossett, a Xylem Brand.

The “Super Flush,” a test of the system, was conducted in April 2014 to make sure the system was fully operational before the stadium opened. During the test, hundreds of workers and volunteers simultaneously flushed every toilet and urinal and turned on every sink in the stadium for about 30 minutes.

"The B&G/CHC system solution handled it with flying colors," Handzel said.

There are twice as many toilets in Levi’s Stadium as there were in Candlestick Park, the 49ers’ former stadium, and the expectation is for significant water savings due to more efficient infrastructure. According to stadium water assessment estimates, 84 percent of all of the water used will be recycled water, which amounts to more than 42 million gallons a year. All of the Bell & Gossett products that went into the stadium are noted for their efficiency and were selected by Turner-Devcon, who drafted design development drawings and specs, along with the support of M-E Engineers. Plumbing contractors ACCO and FW Spencer completed the permit packages, which included the selection of Bell & Gossett centrifugal pumps and Goulds Water Technology e-SV multistage centrifugal pumps for the recycled-water pressure booster system.

"The system needed to be both innovative and high-performing,” said Kevin Coyne, vice president at FW Spencer. “Based on our successful history working with CHC, we knew the Bell & Gossett products would deliver on both fronts."

ACCO, the mechanical contractor for the project, procured a variety of Bell & Gossett products, including Rolairtrol air separators, Series 60 inline pumps, 1510 end suction base mounted pumps, and VSX double suction pumps for the hydronic systems. Xylem Bell & Gossett brazed plate and GPX gasketed plate and frame heat exchangers were specified and supplied for the project, offering the highest level of thermal efficiency for the condenser water system since majority of the air-conditioning equipment and food service coolers are water-cooled. The stadium received LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a first for a NFL stadium.

"Every detail regarding environmental sustainability was addressed during planning and construction," said CHC’s Ken Carey. "This project is a bellwether for others to follow."

The 49ers made their debut in Levi’s Stadium during the NFL preseason in August 2014. The stadium is scheduled to host Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016, to a crowd of more than 70,000 people.

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