As you follow the World Series this year, there’s something else to watch besides the score: the energy-efficient features that baseball stadiums are showing off this season.
In fact, Major League Baseball (MLB) has emerged as a vanguard of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)’sSports Greening Project, which has sparked a sustainability movement across a slew of professional and collegiate sports leagues. The MLB was the first professional sports league to partner with NRDC on the initiative in 2005.
“Major League Baseball has really been a pioneer in the sports greening movement by committing holistically to environmental stewardship, which of course includes energy efficiency and water efficiency,” said Alice Henly, a principal author of the Sports Greening Project’s Game Changer Report, which was published in September 2012 and includes a preface by MLB Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. The report does not rank the ballparks but includes case studies and snapshots all the parks listed below.
Armed with the information from NRDC’s sports report – as well as the know-how from playing on the Alliance to Save Energy’s two-time league champion Killer Watts softball team (which welcomed Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper to pitch hit one day) – I feel qualified to rank our great nation’s baseball stadiums on energy efficiency. My rankings are based on sheer numbers of energy-efficient features, as well as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
And America’s Most EE Ballparks Are…
1. Marlins Park: Miami Marlins
Photo: Marlins Park. Credit: Miami Marlins, Kelly Gavin.
This season, the Florida Marlins changed their name to the Miami Marlins and moved into the nation’s newest LEED-certified baseball stadium. Marlins Park boasts LEED Gold rating in part because its energy-efficient building envelope – and its mechanical, electrical, lighting, heating, and cooling systems – cost the ballpark 22% less on energy compared to similar structures.
- The ballpark has an 8,000-ton retractable roof that requires a lot of energy to operate, but regenerative drive systems reduce power consumption so that it costs less than $10 in electricity to open or close.
- Plumbing – which includes 250 waterless urinals – uses 52% less water than in similar stadiums. Meanwhile, landscaping around the stadium uses 60% less potable water for irrigation because its drought-resistant plants need less water.
- Windows and glass panels provide ample natural lighting.
- Marlins Park was built on the site of the old Orange Bowl, so it is accessible via multiple transportation options; the park also offers over 300 bike racks. In addition, 60% of the materials used to build Marlins Park came from within a 500-mile radius, which reduced fuel consumption.
2. Target Field: Minnesota Twins
Photo: Target Field. Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn, Minnesota Twins.
The Minnesota Twins’ Target Field was the second U.S. ballpark ever to become LEED-certified, and it is the only ballpark with LEED certifications in both construction and operations. After becoming certified with LEED Silver as a new building when it opened in 2010, Target Field went onto obtain LEED Silver for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance in December 2011. In fact, upgrades to equipment, lighting, and HVAC in 2011 reduced electricity use by more than 12%, despite a new video board and added radiant heating units.
- Low-flow urinals, dual-flush toilets, and aerated faucets use 30% less potable water than conventional fixtures and save about 4 million gallons of water annually.
- Rain recycle system allows the Twins staff to use rainwater to wash the seating area; per game, the system saves them 14,000 to 21,000 gallons of water; 86 gallons of gasoline; and 57 man-hours of labor.
- High-efficiency field lighting and an automated system that shuts down lights across the whole facility at certain times each day saves the ballpark nearly $6,000 a year.
- Office staff turn off lights and computers, and engage in other energy-saving behaviors, to help save nearly 5% on office energy use.
- Target Field prides itself on being America’s most multi-modal, transit-oriented ballpark. The ballpark is accessible via light rail, commuter rail, buses lines, bike trails, and pedestrian routes, and its website offers information on traffic so drivers can plan avoid it.