Smarter Business: Greening the Games
Professional sports team up with NRDC to reduce their environmental impact.
Major League Baseball
Baseball is a social institution with social responsibilities and caring for the environment is inextricably linked to all aspects of the game. Sound environmental practices make sense in every way and protect our natural resources for future generations of baseball fans.” – MLB Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig
NRDC and MLB team up to encourage recycling, conserve energy, reduce costs, and protect America's wild places. See other green sports videos.
In 2005 Major League Baseball became the first professional sports league to partner with NRDC. MLB officials and NRDC experts met to discuss a league greening initiative, and later formed the “Commissioner’s Initiative on Sustainable Stadium Operations and Team Practices.”
To kick off this initiative, NRDC developed the NRDC Greening Advisor, an online environmental resource guide that has been customized and distributed to each team in the league. The NRDC Greening Advisor for MLB, which earned the U.S. EPA’s Environmental Merit Award in 2008, is designed to help each team and stadium operator identify and pursue environmentally superior operations and supply chain options both in their stadium and city. These include: office operations, stadium operations and maintenance, team and fan transportation, energy use, paper use, concession operations, events planning, recycling and waste management.
MLB Green Teams collect recyclables during the 2011 World Series games in Arlington, Texas. ©MLB Photos/Darrell Byers Read more about the 2011 MLB postseason environmental commitments.
"Baseball is in a unique position to exert positive influence in the area of environmental stewardship. Just as Baseball took a leading role in the development of relations between the races in the United States, with the appearance of Jackie Robinson for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, so must it turn its attention, efforts, and influence to other important social issues. One of those issues, which is inextricably linked to all aspects of our game, is care for the environment."
– Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig
Since the launch of this partnership, virtually every MLB team has established environmental initiatives at their stadiums and are now making an effort to track their successes. MLB is the first professional sports league in the United States to design and implement an environmental data collection system, to collect and analyze stadium operations data, as well as encourage teams to share information about their environmental efforts and successes. The MLB Green Track system—developed by NRDC, the Commissioner’s Office, and the MLB IT team—is already being used by most professional baseball teams to track energy use, water use, waste management and recycling, and paper purchasing.
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. Find out how you can join MLB and make a difference with NRDC's Green Tips..
The MLB Commissioner’s Office also 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 to all MLB teams. The publication encourages stadium and arena operators to install on-site solar technology at their facility and provides detailed information about the process. To date, five MLB teams have installed solar systems at their stadiums: the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park, the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
TEAM INITIATIVES: Read More↓
As a result of the Commissioner’s sustainability initiative and the league’s partnership with NRDC, virtually every MLB team has engaged in environmental initiatives, such as reducing energy use by making equipment improvements, engaging fans in recycling programs, switching to recycled paper, installing on-site solar panel systems, and taking strides to reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals used on fields. Here is a brief sampling of the efforts being taken by teams:
The Seattle Mariners
Through numerous energy efficiency improvements, the Seattle Mariners have reduced Safeco Field’s use of natural gas by 66% and electricity consumption by 30% 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 and expect a 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. Over $1 million was saved in utility costs for electricity, natural gas, water and sewer in just over three years, and they project to save $500,000 in 2011. Read more about the Mariners’ greening efforts.
The Washington Nationals
Nationals Park—home of the Washington Nationals—was the first professional sports venue to be awarded LEED Silver certification for a new construction when it was completed in 2008. This park was built on a brownfield and was constructed using local building materials comprised of 95% recycled content. The stadium’s green features include:
- a 6,300-square foot green roof that helps reduce cooling costs and water runoff;
- low-flow fixtures in restrooms that save a projected 3.6 million gallons of water per year;
- high efficiency field lighting and time/motion sensors on lighting, which are projected to cut energy use by 21 percent compared to traditional field lighting;
- a recycling program that diverts about 80 percent of waste items including glass, metal, plastic, cardboard, and paper;
- close proximity to public transportation metro stations;
- and purchasing renewable energy to cover 70 percent of expected energy consumption.
The San Francisco Giants
Home of the San Francisco Giants, AT&T Park was the first major league ballpark to receive LEED Silver certification for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance (EBO&M) in 2010. The stadium has long embraced green operational practices. Notably, it was the first MLB stadium to install a solar power system in 2007. Since then, the ballpark has made many additional improvements to earn LEED credit, including:
- energy-efficient compact fluorescent lighting throughout the ballpark;
- an aggressive recycling and composting program that diverted 67 percent of the ballpark's waste from going to the landfill in 2010;
- low-flush toilets, urinals, shower facilities, and aerators;
- re-commissioning of the entire mechanical system in 2010;
- and a new HD scoreboard that is 78 percent more efficient than its predecessor, among other initiatives.
LEAGUE EVENTS: Read More↓
NRDC has also worked with Major League Baseball to green the league’s “jewel events”, starting with the 2008 All-Star Game events in New York City, including the All-Star Game Red Carpet Parade, the All-Star Concert in Central Park, and the All Star Game itself at Yankee Stadium.
MLB Green Teams collect recyclables during the 2011 World Series games in St. Louis. ©MLB Photos/ Tim Parker Read more about the 2011 MLB postseason environmental commitments.
The All-Star Game Red Carpet Parade featured a first-ever “green” red carpet which incorporated 100% recycled content and was manufactured with 100% renewable energy. NRDC green team volunteers collected thousands of bottles at the Bon Jovi All-Star Concert in Central Park, which was the largest public event recycling initiative in the history of NYC. And All-Star Game events—including Fan Fest, the Home Run Derby, and the All-Star Game--were powered by energy that was obtained from 100% renewable wind power.
MLB also engaged fans by running public service announcements featuring MLB players encouraging attendees to recycle at Yankee Stadium and handing out NRDC ecotips inside reusable bags made from recycled content at All-Star Game events.
Similar efforts continued at the 2009 All-Star Game and 2010 All-Star Game, the 2009 World Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, and the 2010 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers.
The 2011 All-Star Game, which will be held in Phoenix, will feature a solar pavilion to educate fans about renewable energy, thanks to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chase Field.
Link to video from ASG in right column
Sign up for NRDC's online newsletter
Green Sports on Switchboard
- NRDC Releases Guide for Greening Collegiate Sports
- posted by Alice Henly, 6/26/14
- Today, at the 2014 College Sports Sustainability Summit, the Natural Resources Defense Council ...
- New York Yankees, with 27 World Championships, Now Seeking to Lead League in Composting and Sustainability
- posted by Eric Goldstein, 4/18/14
- Two weeks before the New York Yankees opened their 111th baseball season, as Derek Jeter and his teammates ...
- 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, ...