Four major sports leading the way in green initiatives

Nov. 2, 2017

Nationals Park, home of Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals. Photo courtesy of Frank Romeo

Sports venues are built for crowds, and for the food, drinks, souvenirs and facilities those crowds need. Unfortunately, that means stadiums and arenas can have huge environmental costs.

But some stadiums and arenas are working toward a more environmentally friendly future, and their efforts can be a model to other venues hoping to lessen their environmental impact. Here are four professional sports teams going the extra mile to make their stadiums and programs leaner and greener.

Football

You might notice some interesting architecture when you visit Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles. The stadium gets energy from 11,000 solar panels and 14 wind turbines, making it the “greenest” stadium in the NFL. “The Linc” derives about 30 percent of its energy from these renewable sources.

The Eagles have received a lot of recognition for the changes they’ve made, and for good reason. PETA also recognized the Eagles and Philly’s other sports teams when it named Philadelphia (and Lincoln Field specifically) the Most Vegetarian-Friendly City for Sports Fans. The city earned this honor by offering many meat-free options at its snack bars.

The NFL itself has outlined several green initiatives to guide programs and venues as they seek to lessen their environmental impact. The hope is that teams will address these issues creatively and find unique solutions that work best for them. These initiatives are:

  1. Streamlining waste management and recycling programs
  2. Collecting leftover prepared food for donation
  3. Whenever possible, donating or reusing non-food materials like decorations and building materials
  4. Donating sports equipment and books
  5. Focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing use of renewable energy

Hockey

The National Hockey League has a unique approach to its focus on protecting and preserving the environment: water. Hockey was first played on frozen lakes, and the league takes seriously its responsibility to care for the environment in the future.

The league hasn’t specified what steps it will take to address environmental issues, but the Pittsburgh Penguins are getting to work. In 2011, it was the first team to adopt a recycling program. This year, as part of the traditional Green Week, where players wear green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the team also shared that its March 17 game was powered entirely by renewable energy.

PPG Paints Arena, home of the Penguins, was the first LEED certified major sporting arena in North America. To gain LEED certification, the venue needed to prove that it met minimum standards in sustainability, air quality, building location and more.

Baseball

When the Washington Nationals were building its new stadium in the District of Columbia, it wanted to do things right. But that doesn’t mean it was always easy.

The team ran into many different obstacles as it tried to build the stadium to LEED specifications, and many sports venues have probably run into similar issues. They dealt with light pollution from the stadium’s powerful lights and massive water consumption to keep the field looking fresh and green.

But the hard work and creative thinking paid off; Nationals Stadium is a model of sustainable design, from its wastewater management facilities to its energy efficiency measures and ample bike parking. In fact, the stadium occasionally offers tours of its energy-efficient features. Nats fans can be certain they’re watching every home game from an environmentally responsible venue.

Basketball

So far, eight NBA team venues have been awarded LEED certification. That includes the Moda Center, home of the Portland Trail Blazers. According to the NBA, 90 percent of the Moda Center’s waste never ends up in a landfill. The arena achieves this through a combination of recycling and a newly implemented composting plan.

The Trail Blazers aren’t afraid to have a little fun with their push for green initiatives. This coming season, the team is partnering up with Daimler Trucks for Threes for Trees program. For every three-pointer scored throughout the season, the team commits to planting three trees.

The Threes for Trees initiative isn’t just happening in Portland, though. In 2015, the NBA made the same pledge across the league for Green Week, a week dedicated to promoting environmental improvements and sustainable measures. The NBA also used Green Week to highlight ways that venues can become less wasteful and more environmentally friendly.

These four teams are taking their social and environmental responsibilities seriously, and working toward lessening their impact on the planet. The next time you visit a major sports stadium or arena, look for signs of green initiatives.

And if you see something wasteful, let someone know. Help your favorite teams win big and go green.

Written by Adam Young. As a frequent visitor of stadiums and arenas around the country, Event Tickets Center CEO Adam Young has been happy to see an increased focus on sustainability.


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