Tuesday, July 13, 2010

America's Greenest Ballpark

Image: Wikipedia

I've often wondered which major league baseball team has the most environmentally friendly ballpark. When it comes to being green, a stadium like the Cub's Wrigley Field seems like the most vividly environmental-looking, with its vast wall of green vines.

I grew up in Chicago, but was a fan of the White Sox, a team, incidentally, that tied the Yankees for having the best post season record in history during their amazing 2005 World Series run. The vines of Wrigley mean little more to me than an overly manicured quaint North Side hedge.

Real ecologically minded stadium design, of course, runs much deeper. It involves lighting, recycling, water usage and eco-smart building materials, as well as good access to mass transit.

So which team gets the vote for having America's greenest ballpark? The winner is, to my surprise, the White Sox's division arch rivals the Minnesota Twins. According to an article in the Star Tribune and the green-building blog Suite 101, Target Field, the Minnesota Twins' new baseball stadium, received a LEED silver rating, certifying it as the greenest ballpark in America.

LEED (Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design) is a certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The rating levels include certified, silver, gold, and platinum. The certification is based on many facets of sustainability, including energy saving, carbon dioxide emission reduction, water saving, and indoor air quality.

Pre-traded J. Werth, Citizens Bank Park. 

Specifically, the designers of Target Field endeavored to create water saving features in the park. Target Field's grass is irrigated with recycled rainwater. An underground system collects and treats rainwater and prepares it for use on the field. This system potentially saves two million gallons of water annually. Likewise, all urinals and toilets in the stadium are low flow, and restroom fixtures at the park use 30 percent less water than traditional ones.

Target Field saves energy by utilizing waste energy from the Hennepin Energy Resource Center to heat most of its indoor spaces and the field. The park uses energy-efficient lighting to illuminate the field and has a power purchase agreement to to make for 70 percent of its energy consumption over a two-year period. The stadium also provides a number of convenient recycling bins.

Not only is the finished product green, but so were the construction methods used to build the stadium. Contaminated soil on the construction site was treated and returned to the ground. Issues with waterway contamination, soil erosion, and dust were mitigated and controlled during the construction process.

Most construction waste was diverted or recycled, and many materials used in construction were made from recycled content. Many of the resources used came from local or nearby sources, including the Mankato, Minnesota limestone which makes up most of the stadium's exterior.

The Twins organization also teamed up with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources so that each time a Twins pitcher breaks an opponent's bat, 100 trees are planted in Minnesota parks. Minnesota's baseball team has built a new model for baseball stadiums across the country by showing dedication and concern for the environment.

These achievements all indicate a tremendous leap forward for the green-building movement. But the Twins aren't the only team that's seeing the benefits of sustainable stadium design.

Since I moved to Philadelphia in 2007, it was only a matter of time before I'd be swept by Phillies fever as the team slugged away like Rocky through the miraculous 2008 championship season and beyond. Thus, I've grown increasingly curious - how green is my newly adopted team? As it turns out, the Phillies are near the top of the list.

Home run?
Recycling pick-ups between innings.

The Phillies are the first Major League Baseball team to join the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership Program which motivates organizations across the world to purchase green power in order to minimize environmental impact. They announced on April 30, 2008 that their home field, Citizens Bank Park, would  be powered with 20 million kilowatt hours of green energy purchased in Green-e Energy Certified Renewable Certificates.

The EPA stated that this purchase holds the record in professional sports for the largest purchase of 100% renewable energy. Likewise, the Phils are among the top three purchasers of green power in Philadelphia.

Aramark Corporation is the Phillies food and beverage provider at Citizens Bank Park and they are taking major actions in improving the environmental impact of the Phillies stadium. Glass, cardboard, and plastics  used during game day are recycled; frying oil is being recycled to produce bio-diesel fuel, and biodegradable, recyclable, and compostable products, serviceware, and plastics have been introduced.

My dog Betsy is a Phillies superfan.

So if you ask me, my vote goes to the Phils for scoring big on every measure. Not only do they have one one of the nation's most environmentally friendly ballparks, it's architecturally pleasant and comfortable (voted 4th best by MLB in 2007), and very accessible for suburban and city folks alike. 

They also have a great team.--D.A. DeMers.


Image credits: Target Field, cc license 2.0, owner does not necessarily share opinions expressed on this page. All others by D.A. DeMers, and free to use under cc license 2.0. Read more at Suite101: Target Field: Greenest Baseball Field in America.

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  2. Thanks for the kind words! Glad you enjoy the posts.