Smarter Business: Greening the Games
Professional sports team up with NRDC to reduce their environmental impact.
Green Sports Alliance
The Green Sports Alliance: An Interleague Partnership to Support the Environment
In 2010, NRDC helped to create the Green Sports Alliance (GSA), an inter-league collaboration among several professional sports teams and stadiums based in the Pacific Northwest. NRDC serves as a founding member on the GSA Board, and the group currently encompasses teams from eight major league sports. Other founding members of the GSA include MLB’s Seattle Mariners, NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, WNBA’s Seattle Storm and MLS’ Seattle Sounders Football Club. Members of the GSA representing sporting facilities include Safeco Field (Seattle), Qwest Field and Qwest Field Event Center (Seattle), KeyArena at Seattle Center (Seattle), the Rose Garden (Portland) and Rogers Arena (Vancouver). More than thirty professional teams have joined the GSA and the National Lacrosse League is also a GSA member.
These organizations work in close partnership with the NRDC, the U.S. EPA, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and other partners to identify and adopt innovative environmental initiatives and share information about better practices and opportunities to measure and reduce their impact on the environment.
"The commitment by more than thirty professional teams, from eight different leagues, to enhance their environmental profile in a meaningful and public way marks a watershed in the history of professional sports," said Allen Hershkowitz, Senior Scientist for NRDC and environmental advisor for professional sports. "This type of inter-league collaboration is unprecedented. The Green Sports Alliance is showing its commitment to making real environmental progress by systematically evaluating their members’ green impacts -- just like sports stats. All professional leagues should follow their lead."
With public endorsements from the Commissioners of eight professional Leagues, and from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, the foundation of the Green Sports Alliance marks the first time that teams from all eight professional sports leagues in North America have collaborated on a common agenda to reduce their impact on the environment. By publicizing the savings achieved through environmental initiatives, and sharing details of successful environmental initiatives, the group aims to provide an advanced environmental model for sports facilities and operations across the country.
NRDC and the GSA are hosting an inaugural Green Sports Summit in August 2011, a conference designed to gather facility managers, marketing directors, and other sports leaders from around the country to discuss the importance of greening sports and to share better practices.
Green Sports Alliance Members: Read More↓
The Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field
Through numerous energy efficiency improvements, the Seattle Mariners reduced Safeco Field’s use of natural gas by 66 percent and electricity consumption by 30 percent in 2009 compared to 2006. One of their cost-saving initiatives was to replace their old incandescent bulb scoreboard and cooling system with a new LED scoreboard. Replacing the scoreboard not only lowered electricity consumption by over 90 percent from 1.2 million kwh to 130,000 kwh, but also reduced energy costs by $50,000 per year, not including an anticipated rebate for the project of about $150,000 from the local utility.
The Mariners are also investing in HVAC changes, lighting retrofits, and plumbing changes, including the recent installation of waterless urinals. They saved over $1 million in utility costs for electricity, natural gas, water and sewer discharges in just over three years, and they project to save $500,000 in 2011. Read more about the Mariners’ greening efforts.
The Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders Football Club at Qwest Field
Since its design and construction in 2002, Qwest Field Event Center, home of the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders FC, has featured high-efficiency fixtures and building systems in an effort to reduce environmental impacts. Since 2002, Qwest Field has continued to make substantial improvements to their building operations. Green features at the stadium include:
- a state-of-the-art building management system and a programmable lighting control system that monitors heating, ventilation, and lighting systems to reduce energy consumption;
- high efficiency lighting fixtures and HVAC;
- low-flow aerators on faucets and ultra-low-flow water fixtures;
- A 58 percent waste diversion rate through composting and recycling programs in 2010
- Reflective “cool roof” materials that reduce heat absorbed by the roof and lower cooling costs;
- Food serviceware made from bio-based, compostable materials, in partnership with Levy Restaurants (Levy has also implemented a sustainable food program with suppliers); and
- Post-consumer recycled content paper products for toilet paper, hand towels and office paper.
In July 2011, Qwest Field finished installing a 3,750-panel solar array that spans 2.5 acres on the roof of the event center–the biggest solar installation in the state of Washington. The panels are projected to generate over 830,000 kwh annually—the equivalent of the total energy used in 95 Seattle homes for an entire year. The panels use cutting-edge thin-film technology that capture both direct and reflected sunlight across a 360-degree cylinder surface, taking advantage of the event center’s reflective roofing material.
Watch a video about the SeaHawks joining the Green Sports Alliance.
The Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden Arena
The Portland Trail Blazers have taken many steps to improve the efficiency of their operations, including achieving LEED Gold certification in 2010 for the Rose Garden Arena where they play. Through an aggressive waste diversion program, 80 percent of their waste is diverted from local landfills, by way of extensive recycling stations for visitors and a food-waste composting program including vendor participation. These projects together have helped divert more than 800 tons from landfills each year. The arena installed energy-efficient lighting—saving over 2,000,000 kWhs of energy a year—as well as low-flow plumbing fixtures. The Trail Blazers also partnered with Pacific Power and NW Natural to purchase 100% renewable energy for all energy used at the arena.
The Seattle Storm at KeyArena
In 2008, the Seattle Storm partnered with the WNBA on the launch of their Go Green initiative promoting the overall green practices of the League’s operations. Environmental initiatives undertaken by the Storm and KeyArena include:
- Heating and cooling for KeyArena is efficiently provided by the Seattle Center Central Utility Plant, which serves the entire campus through a continuous underground loop of steam and chilled water lines, eliminating the need for a separate heating and cooling system for KeyArena.
- An energy savings program eliminated 800 lights along arena concourses.
- The Storm purchases energy credits through Seattle City Light to offset energy consumption during games at KeyArena.
- A robust food waste composting program and recycling program for bottles, paper, cardboard and other materials, including participation from fans, building staff, and the building concessionaire, has dramatically reduced garbage produced by the arena. In 2010, 60 percent of waste generated at the arena was diverted for composting.
- In-building power equipment and 100 percent of the Seattle Center vehicle fleet is powered by alternative fuels.
- KeyArena is served by transit and by Seattle Center Monorail, which connects to light rail and other transit downtown.
- In 2011, electric vehicle charging stations will be installed in the Center’s 5th Ave N Garage.
The Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena
The Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena are committed to continuous team sustainability efforts and operational improvements. Recent greening initiatives include:
- Retro-fitting lights and appliances with LED and Energy Star labeled products.
- Installing Variable Frequency Drives and Product Management Software to help control heat and electricity based on usage needs.
- Installing water conserving fixtures, including waterless urinals, no-touch sensor faucets and low-flow toilets.
- Recycling construction materials, textiles, office paper and cardboard, glass, metal, cooking oil, and increasing the number of recycling bins for plastic bottles in concourses.
Testimonials from League Commissioners & EPA: Read More↓
MLB Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig:
“Major League Baseball applauds the leadership shown by the Seattle Mariners’ environmental efforts. Their participation in the Green Sports Alliance demonstrates the commitment made by MLB and our Clubs to act in environmentally-sensitive ways. We support all the members of the professional sports community working to advance this important cause and wish the Green Sports Alliance the best of success.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
“The NFL is proud to support the greening efforts of the Seattle Seahawks. Environmental stewardship is important to the NFL and all our clubs, and the Seattle Seahawks are a leader in this area. Enhancing the sustainability of professional sports is a worthy goal, and we wish the Green Sports Alliance great success.”
NBA and WNBA Commissioner David Stern:
“The Seattle Storm and the Portland Trail Blazers are helping to lead the way on the greening of professional sports and the NBA and WNBA are grateful for their leadership. Their participation in the Green Sports Alliance holds the potential to further the greening of professional sports nationally and we wish the GSA the best of success in this important endeavor."
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman:
“The NHL strongly supports the greening efforts of the Vancouver Canucks. Their participation in the Green Sports Alliance brings teams together from all professional leagues in the Pacific Northwest and aligns with the NHL’s environmental initiatives. This effort holds the promise of even further greening of professional sports."
MLS Commissioner Don Garber:
“Major League Soccer and MLS W.O.R.K.S. are proud of the tremendous work Seattle Sounders FC are doing in conjunction with the Green Sports Alliance. Our league prides itself on giving back to the communities that support our clubs, and enhancing the environment is an initiative that all of us at MLS support.”
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson:
“EPA commends the founding members of the Green Sports Alliance for recognizing the importance of protecting the environment and stepping up their green game. We thank them for their commitment to protecting our health and the environment. We hope that their efforts and the work toward environmental innovation will inspire their many fans and fellow teams to make choices that protect our people and our planet.”
Sign up for NRDC's online newsletter
Green Sports on Switchboard
- NRDC's "Guide to Composting at Sports Venues"
- posted by Darby Hoover, 3/22/14
- Composting for sports organizations just got easier with the release of NRDC’s Guide to Composting ...
- Australian Open Greening Wins
- posted by Alice Henly, 1/25/14
- At last, it’s finals weekend of the Australian Open tennis championships, held at Melbourne Park ...
- College Sports Follow the Lead of NHL Green
- posted by Alice Henly, 11/4/13
- The NHL has one of the strongest environmental programs of any sports organization worldwide, ...
- NASCAR and NRDC Join Forces
- posted by Allen Hershkowitz, 9/11/13
- Today at a ceremony in Chicago I will be joined by former Vice President Al Gore and General Wesley ...
- Penn State Grows Green Sports Program
- posted by Alice Henly, 4/25/13
- This week Penn State University hosted NRDC and the Green Sports Alliance as part of their Earth Week ...