Bringing Cutting Edge Energy Solutions to PPG Paints Arena

A Championship-Level Energy Strategy

PPG Paints Arena in downtown Pittsburgh is home to the 2016 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s also home to a winning energy strategy—aided by Direct Energy Business—that combines efforts aimed at energy efficiency, demand reduction and smart procurement strategies that take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace.

Reducing Demand While Keeping the Ice Cold

As primarily a venue for ice hockey, PPG Paints Arena features an ice rink at its center. When the arena’s managers decided they wanted to participate in a demand response program, it was time to get creative. Because curtailing usage could affect the systems that keep the ice cold, PPG Paints Arena turned to Direct Energy Business to help them develop a plan that would not disrupt their operations, their ice—or the comfort of the fans who attend their events.

Demand response is a type of program where regional transmission organizations pay large energy users to reduce their electricity in times of peak demand on the grid. With more than 900 sites under management that curtailed more than 400 megawatts (MW) in 2016, Direct Energy Business is a proven leader in managing this type of program. “Direct Energy [Business] has helped us greatly through the demand response program. They’re actually one of the most competitive demand response companies out there,” said Michael Steuver, Director of Building Operations for PPG Paints Arena.

Putting the Strategy in Play

Working with the facility’s managers, Direct Energy Business went to work analyzing the arena’s usage to identify where, when and how much the facility could potentially curtail during a demand response event. With the plan in place, they committed to curtail over two MW of electricity at PPG Paints Arena and the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, where the Penguins hold their practices. Additionally, voluntary measures like lowering HVAC usage are taken on a regular basis to cut back on projected high peak load days.

“We were very impressed by [Direct Energy Business]. They were able to work with us being a sports facility. There are certain times when we can’t curtail our usage and they were very helpful in working through those challenges and making sure we were able to participate [in demand response],” Steuver continued.

Generating Revenue to Reinvest in Energy Efficiency

The Demand Response program is projected to earn PPG Paints Arena significant capacity payments over the next three years. Leaders at the arena intend to use part of those payments to invest into their continued smart energy initiatives at each facility. In addition, the arena was able to reduce their capacity tag by more than 20 percent between 2014 – 2016 translating into a reduced carbon footprint and additional dollars in energy savings.


PPG Paints Arena was able to curtail more than two megawatts of power through demand response.

Using and Buying Less Energy

At Direct Energy Business, we’re committed to helping our customers consume less energy with programs like demand response and helping them to buy less of it, too. With PPG Paints Arena, we accomplished that by helping them take advantage of favorable pricing in the forward markets for both natural gas and electricity that yielded significant savings.

Energy Efficiency in the Building’s DNA

As the first LEED Gold-certified major sports venue in the country, PPG Paints Arena has smart energy management built into it. From energy efficient lighting and HVAC systems to innovative building materials, everything about PPG Paints Arena reflects some of the best practices in green building technology. The facility’s management builds on that foundation by continuing to invest in a range of initiatives aimed at utilizing independent and sustainable energy, like their involvement in the Uptown District Energy Center, a natural gas powered combined heat and power (CHP) plant and EcoInnovation District.

An Award-Winning Performance

With this complete energy strategy in place, PPG Paints arena is an unquestioned leader in energy efficiency. That’s why Direct Energy Business presented the arena with its inaugural All-Star Energy Award along with a $5,000 donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals®.


Direct Energy Business has helped us greatly through the demand response program. They're actually one of the most competitive demand response companies out there.

- Michael Stuever, Director of Building Operations for PPG Paints Arena Quote

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