Smarter Business: Greening the Games

Professional sports team up with NRDC to reduce their environmental impact.

"Sports matter...and have an unparalleled impact on the everyday lives of billions of people. Sporting events are far and away the most watched television programs in the world."
-- A. Markovits and L. Rensmann, “Gaming the World”

No matter what jersey your favorite team wears, there's one color that every sports fan can root for: green.

Whether it's Major League Baseball's All-Star Game, the NBA Finals, NHL’s Winter Classic, the NCAA Final Four or the U.S. Open tennis championship, some of the biggest games in professional sports are making an effort to be more environmentally conscious by using NRDC's specially developed Greening Advisors.

They've teamed up with NRDC to examine everything ranging from their purchasing decisions to transportation choices, energy use, and waste management policies, looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact. And they're encouraging fans to do the same online and in their stadiums and arenas.

NRDC Trustee Robert Redford describes MLB's mission to set an example for businesses and fans by improving stadium operations to benefit the environment for future generations. See other green sports videos.

The benefits for both professional and college sports leagues are robust, from saving thousands of dollars on energy, waste, and water bills to creating new sponsorship opportunities and enhancing brand value with corporate social responsibility--not to mention the environmental benefits.

NRDC started working with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles in 2004, providing advice for the team's "Go Green" effort. Since then, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the National Football League, Major League Soccer, the U.S. Tennis Association, and the NCAA Final Four have all picked up the ball.

NRDC has produced Greening Advisors for all MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS teams and the USTA. The NRDC Greening Advisor is a web-based environmental resource guide designed to help each team and facility operator identify what they can do in their specific city and facility to pursue environmentally superior operations and supply chain options. The Greening Advisor won the EPA’s Environmental Merit Award in 2008.

One of the many ways NRDC has been helping stadiums and arenas reduce environmental impacts is by commissioning energy, waste, and water efficiency audits -- many of which result in significant cost savings. For example, between 2006 and 2009, the Seattle Mariners reduced Safeco Field’s use of natural gas by 44 percent and electricity consumption by 17 percent, saving over $1 million in just over three years.

NRDC and MLB team up to encourage recycling, conserve energy, reduce costs, and protect America's wild places. See other green sports videos.

Since first partnering with NRDC in 2008, each year the US Open has recycled 18,000 tennis ball cans and replaced 2.4 million virgin fiber-based napkins with 90% post-consumer recycled content napkins, along with many other initiatives.

In 2011 NRDC was asked to join the NCAA Final Four Sustainability Committee to integrate ecologically intelligent practices into the event’s planning and production. Over the course of the event weekend, the Final Four recycled more than seven tons of paper, bottles and cans; composted 1.5 tons of food waste; and donated unused food to local charities.  100% of the energy used at the George R. Brown Convention Center was sourced from wind and solar, and carbon offsets were purchased for energy used at Reliant Stadium. And these efforts don’t end here: the Convention Center is currently seeking LEED Silver certification.

NRDC provides the framework and expertise for leagues and teams to measure their environmental impacts, develop baseline information and track environmental progress. NRDC also offers tools to help leagues educate their employees, sponsors, players, and fans about the importance of environmental issues. NRDC has helped develop the first ever environmental impact measurement template to help teams and leagues keep track of energy use, water use, waste generation, recycling, and paper use. This data collection system, already in place at Major League Baseball, is being considered for use by all leagues. Additionally, all the leagues NRDC is partnered with have distributed a publication produced by NRDC and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation entitled Solar Energy for Your Stadium or Arena: A Guide to Understanding Opportunities of On-Site Photovoltaic Solar Power Generation, encouraging stadium and arena operators to install on-site solar technology at their facility and providing detailed information about the process. 

NRDC’s sports greening work has also prompted the formation of the Green Sports Alliance, an unprecedented collaboration of professional sports teams from six major sports leagues, coming together to advance an environmental agenda.

The result: A win for all of us.


NRDC is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization.

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