Sports Teams Go to Bat for the Environment

Recycling is a priority at Michigan Stadium, the University of Michigan’s “Big House.” Photo: University of Michigan

Recycling is a priority at Michigan Stadium, the University of Michigan’s “Big House.” Photo: University of Michigan

Major League Support

Across the board, sports teams are recognizing the need to green up their act. With the involvement of each sport’s league, the individual initiatives are becoming stronger and more cohesive. Today, the major or “jewel” events for each division of the sports industry, such as the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, NBA Playoffs, NCAA Final Four and others, are now powered with renewable energy. And the commissioners of every major professional sports league have gotten behind the need to fight climate change and become better stewards and protectors of the environment.

In a presentation for the National Resources Defense Council earlier this year, Major League Baseball Commissioner Alan H. “Bud” Seelig said, “The principles of sustainability and environmental stewardship are now integral to the culture of Major League Baseball . . . . Sound environmental practices make sense in every way and protect our natural resources for future generations of baseball fans.”

Others agree with Seelig’s conclusion. During the Green Sports Alliance Summit in New York in August, more than 600 of the green sports industry’s supporters met to discuss best practices and solutions, tour venues and listen to speakers on topics from engaging athletes in green practices to how to implement fan-engagement programs to build support for green initiatives.

To date, at least 18 pro-sports teams have installed solar panels at their venues, according to the GSA, and 38 teams have turned to renewable energy sources for at least some of their operations.  As old stadiums are replaced by newer, more energy-efficient ones, they are competing with one another to be not just the sleekest, but the most efficient. So far, 15 stadiums or arenas in North America have achieved LEED green building-design certification, according to the NRDC, and 70 sports teams have some sort of energy-efficiency program in effect.

It’s no longer a question of whether teams need to participate in green initiatives; the question for sports franchises today is how they can go about creating the greenest operations possible. And it goes far beyond a photo opp and good publicity, according to the Reds’ Anderson.

“It’s not something that’s PR-focused,” he says. “It’s just an integral part of what we do.”

The EPA has worked with sports teams to establish greener practices. Source: EPA

The EPA has worked with sports teams to establish greener practices. Source: EPA

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