The greening of the summer game

The greening of the summer game

Take me out to the ballgame and buy me some sustainably-raised peanuts and a soy dog. OK, I’m kidding about the soy dog. But I do love baseball and so I was delighted to learn recently that big league teams are trying to reduce their environmental impact. Closer to home, I can’t wait to see the new Washington Nationals stadium this Sunday—it will be the first LEED-certified major league park.

Today’s Sustainability column is about baseball. I met with Susan Klumpp of HOK, one of the stadium architects for the Nationals, who talked about the challenges of designing a facility that meets standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council. She didn’t get the solar roof she was hoping for—that may come later—but there will be lots of recycling, energy-efficient lights, low-flush urinals, etc. Susan has worked on lots of projects for HOK—the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, an FBI lab in Quantico, Va., an array of islands called “The World” in Dubai—but the project was special to her. It’s close to her home here in D.C., for one thing. Plus, her father was a minor league baseball player, so she’s looking forward to taking him to a game.

I also talked to longtime NRDC scientist and activist Allen Hershkowitz. He’s the point man on NRDC’s collaboration with baseball, as well as a Mets fan (hey, nobody’s perfect) and coach of his son’s little league team. His hope is that baseball can deliver a boost to the environmental movement, just as it helped drive the civil rights movement by integrating the major leagues (albeit too late). He’s been impressed by the response he’s getting from teams all around the league to the NRDC’s ideas.
Here’s how the column begins:

When the Washington Nationals play their home opener against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, the grass on the field won’t be the only thing that’s green.

The Washington Nationals’ new $311 million stadium, built by the District of Columbia, is the first big league ballpark to meet standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council. It will have energy-efficient lighting, ultra low-flow lavatory faucets, low-flush toilets, recycling bins, a green roof, bike racks and preferential parking for high-mileage cars.

The team isn’t the only one stepping up to the plate when it comes to reducing environmental footprints. Last summer the Cleveland Indians put up solar panels at Progressive Park - and the Boston Red Sox are in the process of installing them up at Fenway Park. The Seattle Mariners recycle food waste, as well as paper and plastic containers. And when you buy a beer at an Oakland A’s game this season, expect a cup made of biodegradable cornstarch.

If you click here to read the rest, you will learn which major league owner is also the publisher of the Utne Reader and Mother Earth News.