Major League Baseball Leads Off 2012 Season With Clean Tech Investments

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Solar panels at Kauffman Stadium
A new solar array leads off the Kansas City Royals' 2012 season

Spring means one thing to the American sports fan — the start of a new Major League Baseball (MLB) season. For the environmentally conscious sports fan, however, it means the debut of new sustainability initiatives at ballparks across the country as the MLB continues its efforts to go green.

Teams across the league have been working to reduce their environmental impact, and major initiatives have taken hold across the league:

  • MLB partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2005 to create the Greening Advisor, a guide to help teams implement sustainability initiatives in their facilities and operations
  • All 30 teams signed onto an environmental data collection program in 2010 that will ultimately lead to greenhouse gas reductions
  • MLB recently ranked highest among all major American sports leagues in a survey of environmental data disclosure, along with the top three individually ranked teams
  • Nearly half of the 20 teams in the Green Sports Alliance are MLB teams

But only looking at league-wide efforts means missing the truly impressive efforts of several teams who have become national green business leaders. MLB teams are leading off the 2012 season with inside-the-park home runs in green building and clean energy.

Green grass, green buildings

Milwaukee’s Miller Park, home of the Brewers, recently achieved LEED certification in Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (EBO&M) from the U.S. Green Building Council. Efficiency improvements constitute a bulk of the upgrades including new HVAC and electrical systems that prevent 1,153 metric tons of annual carbon emissions, water fixture retrofits that will save 3 million gallons of water, and diverting 35 percent of all waste from landfills to recycling since 2010.

The ballpark is the fourth MLB stadium to receive the prestigious designation, joining LEED Silver-certified San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park, Minnesota Twins’ Target Field, and Washington Nationals’ Nationals Park. AT&T Park was the first MLB stadium to receive LEED Silver certification for EBO&M in 2010, and Nationals Park was the first professional sports venue to be awarded LEED Silver certification for new construction in 2008.

Renewable power hitters

Renewable energy sources continue to get on base with MLB teams, with the Cleveland Indians’ Progressive Field debuting an innovative corkscrew-shaped helix wind turbine this season. The turbine is designed to work better in an urban setting than a traditional turbine, and will generate more than 40,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year.  Cleveland is the first team to install wind power, and was also the first team to install solar power in 2007.

The Kansas City Royals’ Kauffman Stadium joins the roster of MLB teams with installed solar power at their ballparks in 2012. The team has installed a 120-panel 36,000 kWh array, called “the largest in-stadium solar array in Major League Baseball.” Five other stadiums have gone solar, including the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park, Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field, Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field, the aforementioned Progressive Field, and Boston Red Sox’ Fenway Park.

From teams to fans

Baseball has long been known as America’s pastime, and holding such an iconic position creates a unique opportunity to familiarize fans with cutting-edge clean tech. With time, sustainability measures at the ballpark may even translate into environmentally friendly action at home.

Image via Burns & McDonnell World

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