When you plan to head to a baseball game, you think of hot dogs and peanuts, but what about solar panels?
Professional sports teams and their affiliated venues in the Pacific Northwest are trying to make the world of professional sports more environmentally responsible with Monday’s launch of the Green Sports Alliance (GSA).
This new Portland-based nonprofit will help teams and venues adopt sustainability programs, share best practices and measure their impact on the environment.
The GSA’s founding members include the Portland Trail Blazers and Vancouver Canucks, as well as many of Seattle’s sports teams: the Mariners, Seahawks, Women’s National Basketball Association’s Storm and Sounders Football Club. Sporting facilities that have joined the group include Portland’s Rose Garden, Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, and Seattle’s Safeco Field, Qwest Field and Key Arena.
These teams and venues will work with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Portland State University to identify and carry out environmental initiatives and track their environmental footprint.
“The commitment by these six professional teams, from six different leagues, to enhance their environmental profile in a meaningful and public way marks a watershed in the history of professional sports,” said Allen Hershkowitz, NRDC senior scientist. “The Green Sports Alliance is showing its commitment to making real environmental progress by systematically evaluating their members’ green impacts — just like sports stats. All professional leagues should follow their lead.”
GSA’s founding members have already made great strides in greening their operations.
The Portland Trailblazers’ Rose Garden received a Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
“[The Rose Garden] has comprehensive waste stations – not just trash cans, with a few recycling bins here and there,” said Darby Hoover, NRDC senior resource specialist. “Each waste station had four holes: the first two for compost and one for recycling. The last is labeled ‘landfill.’”
The NRDC hopes sports teams and venues across North America will join the Alliance. Teams and venues do not need to meet a set of environmental standards before joining GSA, Hoover said, but members are expected to measure and report on their environmental performance and to commit to improving that performance over time.
How will sports teams and facilities go green? Venues can cut down on their waste going to landfill by setting up recycling and composting programs and avoiding purchases of non-recyclable products. To save energy, they can improve the efficiency of their lighting, as well as install renewable energy sources like solar panels. Sports teams can travel in fuel-efficient vehicles and patronize green hotels.
In August, the Alliance will host its first Green Sports Summit in Portland to bring facility managers and sports teams together with environmental experts to share success stories and encourage their peers to green their operations.