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Chris DeVolder Discusses Advancing Sustainability in the Sports Industry

In this Stadia Magazine Q+A, Chris DeVolder, HOK’s sustainable design leader for Sports + Recreation + Entertainment, discusses how to advance sustainable design strategies in the sports industry.  

chris-devolder-300pxTalk us through your career to date. How did you arrive at your current post?

CD: I have spent the majority of my 20-year career working on complex sport facility projects at the collegiate and professional levels. My passion for sustainability and connection to the sports industry has allowed me to help champion the green sports movement. With each project, I initiate conversations with our clients and partners to help them identify opportunities and implement strategies to realize sustainability goals.

We have had the benefit of collaborating with some amazing clients and progressive partners to advance these initiatives. These relationships and experiences have enabled our firm to be at the forefront of the industry as thought leaders in sports and sustainability.

What does your current role entail?

My role centers on the development and implementation of sustainable strategies specific to each venue that benefit our clients, their communities and the industry.

What can you tell us about the ‘future of sports facility design’ report that HOK is developing with the GSA?

In general, we are encouraged by the number of sports projects that are utilizing some form of sustainability metrics. This ranges from energy, water and waste tracking to the purchase of renewable energy to pursuing LEED certification. While advances have been made in the industry, we can do better. Designers and owners need to think beyond the boundary of their projects and explore how multiple buildings can share resources. For example, the waste heat from a sports facility might provide hot water to an adjacent hotel.

When our buildings, infrastructure and efficiency strategies are better integrated at this scale, we can start to see the true opportunities of sustainability integrated with sports. It is from this thesis that we are exploring and detailing the future metrics of sports facility design. We are aiming to release the report at a Green Sports Alliance event during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

How exactly will HOK help shape future GSA membership programs and partnerships?

HOK is excited to partner with the GSA and other major players in the sports and sustainability industry to develop a corporate membership program. As founding partners, companies including HOK, BASF, Office Depot, UPS and Wells Fargo will lead efforts to further the mission of the Green Sports Alliance and advance the synergies between sustainability, sports and business.


Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif., features 882 solar panels – enough to offset power use at regular-season games.

Can you provide an update on HOK’s commitment and activity in regards to the 2030 Challenge? 

The AIA 2030 commitment is about working across the profession to achieve carbon neutral design solutions by 2030. As an industry leader in sustainable design and a founding signatory to the AIA 2030 Commitment, HOK enrolls its entire global design portfolio in the AIA 2030 program every year, proving the connection between building design, operations and performance. We’re working with our partners in the sports industry to establish a baseline for these facilities so we can advance benchmarking methods and continue improving the surrounding communities.

What was the subject of the plenary session you moderated at the GSA Summit?

The session examined current building projects that are serving as catalysts for urban core development. By increasing density, this type of development reduces the carbon and water footprint of users with more efficient infrastructure and public transportation. The panelists also discussed their process for engaging stakeholders as well as the challenges and opportunities associated with ‘district’ scale projects.

This article was reposted courtesy of Stadia Magazine.