Green Stadiums: Sports Franchises Becoming Eco-Friendly

Reader Contribution by Brittney Tyler-Milholland

When I think about sports, unfortunately green policies aren’t usually a connection I make. However, thanks to a new initiative taken by many franchises, this is starting to change. Sports teams ranging from baseball to racing are working to reduce their impact on the environment. Many sports franchises are slowly getting greener by working to reduce waste, increase energy efficiency and install renewable energy systems at their stadiums.

The Philadelphia Eagles have an entire program devoted to going green, aptly named “Go Green.” This program is designed to encourage recycling, renewable energy and tree planting. The Eagles have set an inspiring goal, they wish to produce 100 percent of their energy through clean renewable energy sources, primarily sun and wind energy. In 2008, the Eagles produced 97 percent of their energy through renewable sources. Also a major concern of the franchise is neutralizing its carbon footprint and reducing its emissions. Emissions from traveling are calculated and offset by planting trees in its forest, which contains about 1,500 trees. For those employees who wish to take these initiatives further, the team offers a reimbursement program that allows employees to use clean power in their homes.

The Washington Nationals stadium is an efficient building that has earned a LEED certification. The building has an in-house recycling center. The water system is made to filter out small particles, such as peanut shells, before the water moves into the storm water system. By using highly efficient lighting, the Nationals have a 21-percent energy savings, and they’ve reduced their water consumption by 30 percent by using plumbing designed to conserve water. To make their use of water more effective, the Nationals used drought-resistant plants that require less water in their landscaping. When constructing their stadium, 10 percent of the construction material was recycled content and most of the remaining material was regionally produced to avoid long transportation. 

Another baseball team, the Indians, has implemented a green campaign within their stadium, Progressive Field. Recycling is a major focus for this team. The Indians use recycled paper and cornstarch cups in their concession stands. They recycle all paper and cardboard and have set up numerous Pepsi recycling bins throughout the stadium. Other items recycled at Progressive Field include aluminum, scrap metal and batteries. All of the new signs installed in 2008 used LED lighting, and the Indians have 42 GE solar panels installed in their stadium, which provide 8.4 kilowatts of energy. 

Professional teams are not the only ones going green, however. The University of Colorado at Boulder — at its stadium, Folsom Field — is also employing several green initiatives through its program, “Ralphie’s Green Stampede.” This program’s goal is to make Folsom Field a zero-waste stadium. Almost all of the public food and beverage containers have been converted to recyclable items or materials that can be made into compost. The program has removed all trash containers in the outdoor areas and now only offers recycling and compost bins. All finished compost will be returned to the university for landscaping. 

These are only a few of the teams that are implementing green policies at their stadiums and within their franchises. Teams around the nation and around the world are realizing the many benefits that greener stadiums can produce.