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Hitting a Home Run for Clean Energy

March 12, 2012 - 11:39am

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Spring. With gentle breezes, blooming flowers, and warm sunshine, the season marks the beginning of fun outdoor activities—picnics, camping, hikes, and the classic American pastime—baseball. In the past five years, major league baseball teams have increasingly made strides in greening up their stadiums. Here are several examples of teams that are hitting a home run for clean energy:

 
  • Cleveland Indians Progressive Field – As the first American League ballpark to use solar energy back in 2007, the stadium boasts an upper deck solar panel array. The electricity produced from its 42 solar panels is enough to power 400 television sets throughout the field. Since installation, the panels have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 76,000 pounds of carbon and decreased the energy consumption equivalent to powering 1,225 homes for one day. The ballpark continued to reduce its energy costs and carbon emissions with LED technology, as all of its new signs installed in 2008 use LED lighting.
  • Seattle Mariners Safeco Field – In 2007, the Mariners stepped up to the plate in reducing energy consumption by making operational adjustments to its stadium. By adjusting lighting controls, installing weatherstripping, upgrading controls on water heating, and expanding recycling, the team saved almost half a million dollars and cut natural gas and electricity usage by about 36 and 18 percent, respectively, from 2007 to 2009. 
  • Washington Nationals Park - Nationals Park is the first major stadium in the nation accredited as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certified structure by the U.S. Green Building Council for its energy-efficient lighting and air cooling, among other features. Its energy-saving lighting uses 21 percent less energy compared to typical field lighting. Its 6,300 square foot green roof, planted with about 1,200 drought-resistant sedums, minimizes the heat released to the environment. 
  • Minnesota Twins Target Field - As the second major league baseball park to attain LEED certification, Target Field uses energy efficient lighting that saves nearly $6,000 a year, low flow plumbing that reduces an estimated 4.2 million gallons of water, and an extensive recycling program throughout its park.

As major league baseball teams increasingly realize the economic and environmental benefits of greening up their stadiums, there also is a similar trend towards more sustainable buildings in other major sports. The Green Sports Alliance, a partner of the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, is an organization whose mission is to help sports teams, venues, and leagues enhance their environmental performance. The alliance aims to reduce the energy use of member facilities by at least 20% by 2020 in aggregate. The Seattle Mariners and Portland Trail Blazers have already met this goal in less than three years.

And perhaps the best news of all is that we can adopt the same clean energy technologies that saved energy and money for those teams to our homes. Whether it’s switching to energy-efficient lighting choices, installing insulation and air sealing, or using energy-efficient water heating, we can all hit a home run for clean energy.

So, what other stadiums and arenas do you know of that are clean and sustainable? E-mail your responses to the Energy Saver team at consumer.webmaster@nrel.gov.

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