How Sports Teams are Going Green

Many sports teams, leagues and players have stepped up their efforts in terms of green initiatives. They want to benefit the environment, as well as reap the long-term financial rewards of utilizing alternative sources of energy. As a result, there have been several changes–over the past few years–across the sports industry. Whether its solar-paneled stadiums or using recycled napkins, sports teams are really becoming much more proactive with going green. They have also been helped by a string of technological advancements to help deploy and monitor new green initiatives.

The NFL

In 2008, the NFL Green Team was launched. It partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for green awareness and action. Some of the actions include fitting the San Francisco 49ers stadium with a solar-paneled terrace that spans around 10,000 square feet.

This impacts not just the NFL, but the stadium also hosts national and international soccer games–as well as college football and other major events. Not to mention, it is certified as green under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

Plus, the $1.2 billion stadium is the first in the NFL to feature a “living roof.” On top of an eight-story tower of luxury suites is a canopy of green and flowering plants. It was designed to reduce the building’s energy use. Plus, NFL clubs throughout the nation are increasing their use of wind turbines, electric charging stations and solar panels.

The new stadium for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons is set for completion in 2017. It will come with a rainwater-collection system to use for cooling and irrigation. Many critics say the NFL’s efforts are long overdue.

In addition, 10 of the NFL’s 32 clubs are working on formal green-energy programs. They are being led by the New York Jets and Giants, the New England Patriots, Seattle and the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, the Philadelphia Eagles’ home–Lincoln Financial Field–has 14 wind turbines and 11,000 solar panels. New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium—home of the Giants and Jets—comes with refrigeration sensors and solar panels. Over the past three years, they have cut the stadium’s energy use by as much as 20%.

Then, there’s the Houston Texans who saved 2.6 million pages from being printed by creating an interactive media guide. The Redskins installed solar panels at their FedEx Field. Moreover, the Vikings have installed reduced-flow pluming at the players’ training areas and clubhouse, while the Rams have printed game tickets on recycled paper.

The MLB

The NFL has found some inspiring ways to go green, and so has the MLB. Just take a look at the Boston Red Sox–they made their entire stadium green. In 2008, they launched the Fenway Greening program. It included the installation of enough solar panels to provide 37 percent of their energy. The stadium also comes with Big Belly trash cans–these are solar-powered compactors that can collect up to six times more garbage than their previously used trash barrels.

In a similar vein, The Cleveland Indians were the first team to install a wind turbine as part of its “Our Tribe Is Green” campaign. Plus, the team has had a long recycling program that has them re-using about a quarter of all of the park’s waste. Of course, when it’s hot outside, you are bound to use a lot of water to cool off. Being in Florida, the Miami Marlins understand this all too well. As a result, they retrofitted their entire stadium to reduce their water footprint. They have implemented new water use plans and installed new plumbing fixtures to reduce their water use by around 52 percent. They also changed their landscape design to reduce the amount of water need for irrigation by 60 percent.

Since 2006, the Seattle Mariners’ Safeco field has reduced their use of natural gas by 40 percent. In addition, they have reduced their use of electricity and water by 25 percent. As a result, they have saved over $1.75 million in water, natural gas, electricity and sewer charges. Then, in 2010, they installed a new scoreboard that uses 90 percent less power than their previous one.

Another team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, have successfully diverted around 65 percent of waste from PNC park out of the waste stream. They also recycled enough bottles to stretch from the PNC Park to Yankee Stadium and back. We also have to mention the Washington Nationals. At their stadium, they have reduced overall water consumption by 30 percent.

As a result, they helped to save 3.6 million gallons of water each year. Their field is lit with energy-conserving light fixtures that use 21 percent less energy–reducing light pollution. And, 10 percent of the building materials came from recycled materials. Before any wastewater from the stadium enters the sewer and water system, it is filtered.

The NHL

You can’t leave hockey out of the green game. With its headquarters in New York City, it started a sustainability initiative to purchase wind energy credits for the purpose of offsetting its electricity usage.

The United States Tennis Association

In 2008, the USTA indtroduced a water bottle recycling program along with using repurposed paper to print programs. The USTA also reuses food grease as biodiesel fuel, while recycling used tennis balls in community programs.

The NBA

Six NBA arenas including:

  • American Airlines Arena in Miami
  • Barclays Center in New York
  • Philips Arena in Atlanta

all have received  LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Plus, five arenas have installed solar panels.

Some sports teams and stadiums have been discouraged by the massive price tag associated with going green. Still, they are able to do so through a piecemeal process. Now, once rudimentary practices have evolved to become large scale and widespread projects. The sports industry continues to strategically replace old energy tactics with alternative forms of energy.

In addition, emerging technologies have helped to monitor the productivity of eco-friendly alternatives, as well as the cost savings over time. It seems that energy bills are being lowered. Not to mention, sports teams are receiving recognition for their actions towards social responsibility and community service. Some have even received new sponsorship bills, further increasing the profits of going green.

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