Smarter Business: Greening the Games
Professional sports team up with NRDC to reduce their environmental impact.
National Basketball Association
Through the NBA Green initiative, the league and its teams are taking steps to become a more environmentally responsible organization. With the NRDC's invaluable partnership, we have implemented recycling programs, installed energy- and water-saving fixtures, encouraged the utilization of sustainable supplies, and promoted the use of mass transit. We know there is more we can do, and we look forward to continuing to work with the NRDC and our teams to help protect our environment.” – NBA Commissioner David Stern
The NBA sponsored this public service announcement featuring NRDC Trustee Robert Redford for its 2009 Green Week.
The NBA began working with NRDC experts in 2007 in order to take steps toward becoming a more environmentally responsible organization. They started with environmental assessments at the League’s front offices and the NBA Store in New York City.
Soon after, the “NBA Green” program was formed under the NBA’s philanthropic NBA Cares program, and NRDC created customized Greening Advisors that were distributed to all NBA teams. These web-based advisors provide a comprehensive toolkit for teams and arenas to green their operations.
In an effort to highlight their growing environmental initiatives and engage fans, sponsors, partners, and players, the NBA held the first-ever Green Week in April 2009 at arenas around the country. The league held auctions to support environmental efforts, sponsored hands-on community service projects, and ran public service announcements about environmental conservation featuring NRDC Trustee Robert Redford. This inaugural Green Week also marked the launch of a new NBA Green website, featuring everything from tips for fans to interviews with NBA players about their efforts to support environmental protection. Ongoing league and team greening efforts, press releases, videos, and green tips are all included on this site. The NBA has continued this annual awareness week in 2010 and 2011.
“One of the things we do well at the NBA is share information and best practices among all of our teams,” Kathy Behrens, Executive VP of Social Responsibility and Player Programs for the NBA. “We’re obviously incredibly competitive when it comes to the game and the action on the court. But off the court, we really focus on the things that we can learn from each other, and a lot of what you see on the NBA Green website is really designed to help educate our teams and fans.”
“The NBA's commitment to reduce its ecological impact and to help educate basketball fans worldwide about the importance of environmental protection confirms why this league is regarded as one of the world's most responsible sports organizations," says NRDC Senior Scientist Allen Hershkowitz.
The league has 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, encouraging teams and arena operators to install on-site solar technology at their facility and providing detailed information about the process. To date, four NBA teams – the LA Lakers and Clippers at the STAPLES Center, the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center, and the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center--have installed solar systems at their arenas, and the Golden State Warriors have installed solar panels at their practice facility.
TEAM INITIATIVES: Read More↓
As a result of the NBA Green program many NBA teams are pursuing environmental initiatives at their arenas, including energy efficiency upgrades, increased recycling programs, community projects, and electronic waste recycling events. Many teams are also renovating, designing or retrofitting their facilities in an effort to achieve LEED Certification. To date, five NBA team arenas have received LEED certification: the Portland Trailblazers’ Rose Garden, the Atlanta Hawks’ Philips Arena, the Miami Heat’s American Airlines Arena, the Orlando Magic’s Amway Center, and the Houston Rockets’ Toyota Center. Here is a brief sampling of the efforts being taken by teams:
The Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena
Philips Arena was the first NBA arena to receive LEED certification for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance in 2009. It did so by making a number of building upgrades, including energy and water efficiency improvements. As a result of HVAC, chiller, and lighting retrofits, system improvements, and reflective roof materials that reduced cooling needs, the arena was able to reduce energy consumption by 2 million kwh annually. In addition, water conservation measures such as low-flow bathroom fixtures have cut annual water use by 2 million gallons. The Hawks and Philips Arena continue to spread the word about these efforts and encourage fans to “Follow our LEED.”
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 certification for the Gold 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 has installed energy-efficient lighting—saving over 2,000,000 kWh’s of energy a year—as well as low-flow plumbing fixtures. The Trail Blazers have also partnered with Pacific Power and NW Natural to purchase 100% renewable energy for all energy used at the arena.
The Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center
The Denver Nuggets’ Play Clean program has led to a number of equipment upgrades and energy efficiency projects. For example, the Blue Sky Grill restaurant at the Pepsi Center installed a 52-panel solar array on their roof, which provides 13,641 KWh of renewable energy annually and avoids the release of 9.42 metric tons of CO2. All remaining electricity demands are offset through purchases of wind power through their utility. The arena has significantly reduced water use by installing low-flow bathroom fixtures and using drought-tolerant landscaping. The arena also has a comprehensive recycling program that diverts plastic bottles and cans from landfills.
LEAGUE EVENTS: Read More↓
NRDC also works with the NBA to reduce the environmental impacts of their events. NRDC first worked with NBA to help green the 2008 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, first by conducting an energy audit of the New Orleans Arena. NRDC helped the NBA improve the existing recycling program to include plastic bottles and aluminum cans, to procure 100% recycled content bathroom tissue at the arena, and to use hybrid cars for staff transportation during the event,The 2009 All-Star Game in Phoenix provided the US Airways Center with a chance to showcase their newly installed solar power system. The 1,100-panel solar array, spanning 18,000 square feet atop a parking garage at the arena, is capable of generating approximately 332 MW of energy annually, enough to power the US Airways Center for 26 Suns home games—the equivalent of eliminating the release of 44,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. Remaining energy use at the arena for the All Star Game was powered by renewable energy from their utility, and offsets were purchased for energy used by generators. The event also incorporated a comprehensive recycling program and waste reduction efforts.
NRDC is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization.
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, ...