In 2005, the NRDC or National Resources Defense Council made an aggressive push to sports leagues about becoming “greener”. The Sports Greening Project’s goal was to get the big 4 organizations–NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB–to make sure their stadiums attained LEED certification.
LEED or the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification is the national standard in sustainable building design. Organizations that attain LEED certification have demonstrated–either through new construction, retrofitting, or building upgrades–that they’ve incorporated elements of energy efficiency, site selection, water usage, air quality, both indoors and out, and a whole range of other considerations. If you’ve used paperless tickets, sat under LED stadium lights, or watched a highlight on a big screen powered by solar at a stadium than you’ve benefited from LEED certification.
The MLB was the first of the big 4 to sign on to the NRDC’s Sports Greening Project mission. For a little more than a decade, Major League Baseball has proven to be a leader in energy efficient design and implementations within its parks. In 2012, the NRDC published the Game Changer Report. This report detailed the progress that the MLB was making within their organization. The results were remarkable. Here are five of the greenest MLB stadiums and how they’re making a difference.
AT&T Field – San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants became the first team in the league to install a solar array. They installed 590 solar panels around the park in 2007. This provided enough daily energy to power over 40 homes. They were also the first team in Major League Baseball to become LEED certified for stadium upgrades. Their dedication to energy efficiency is not just seen in solar power. AT&T Field diverts more waste from the landfill than any other team, not only in the MLB but of any professional sports league–including NBA, NFL, and NHL. San Francisco is one of the greenest cities in America–it’s fitting that it also has one of the greenest team’s in Major League Baseball.
Target Field – Minnesota Twins
Target Field–home of the Minnesota Twins was the second U.S. ballpark to obtain LEED certification. Today it remains the only ballpark LEED certified for construction and park operations. Given the Silver rating for its dedication to efficiency, Target Field upgraded their equipment, lighting, and HVAC which has been reducing their energy costs by 12% since 2011. The ballpark is accessible via a multitude of ways–light rail, commuter rail, bus lines, bike paths, and pedestrian routes. If attendees are looking for traffic updates on the way to the game, they can be viewed right on the stadium’s website. A combination of water saving features like low-flow urinals, dual flush toilets, and aerated faucets help to save the park 4 million gallons of water each year. And the ballparks high-efficiency lighting is operated by an automated system that shuts down the lights during daytime hours.
Nationals Park – Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals were the first team to apply and receive LEED certification for new construction in Major League Baseball. Nationals Park was built with energy efficiency and low-impact on the environment from the very beginning. Boasting a 6,300 square foot to block heat from the sun saves the park millions in energy costs. The stadium was constructed with 95% locally sourced recycled steel. A focus on recycling has resulted in diverting 80% of trash from the landfill. Nationals Park has also shown that they want their fans to care for the environment by designing the stadium with ample access to public transportation and the addition of over 250 bike racks around the stadium.
Miller Park – Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers stadium–Miller Park, was built in 2001 and was the first baseball stadium to have a retractable roof that held a LEED certification. In addition, the stadium includes many other energy saving systems for HVAC, plumbing, electrical lighting, and power. They also have a snazzy high-definition scoreboard that uses 50% less energy than the previous scoreboards commonly used by stadiums. Miller Park was able to reduce their annual CO2 emissions by 1,153 metric tons–that’s equivalent to the emissions of 220 cars!
Marlins Park – Florida Marlins
Marlins Park–home of the Florida Marlins boasts a gold rating with LEED for its energy efficiency. The park is accessible by a number of transportation options–and features over 300 bike racks. Marlin’s Park is constructed from 60% locally sourced materials. It features a retractable roof that uses a regenerative drive system which reduces power consumption–costing less that $10 to open and close the roof. Another green system that saves the ballpark money is the 250 waterless urinals. They use 52% less water than those in similar stadiums. Overall, Marlins Park spends 22% less than comparable structures thanks to its efficient design in systems used for mechanical, electrical, lighting, heating, and cooling.
Major League Baseball has made tremendous strides on their way to becoming the most energy efficient organization in the sports world. Through the expansion of solar power programs, water usage, air quality control, and many other innovative solutions, the MLB is showing how we should be entering the 21st century. Their leadership has led to the remainder of the big 4 organizations to follow suit. The world thanks them for taking the initiative.