Green Right Now Reports

It’s the eve of football season, but it appears the EPA has just run up the first big score.


The distinctive wind turbines and solar panels at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field.

The agency announced a new Green Sports directory today in which it has rounded up information about the green initiatives among the football, basketball, baseball and hockey leagues, their teams and players. This website praises the teams for their progress and covertly throws down a challenge, sly kick-in-the-pants, to keep up.

Even though many teams have made great strides toward reducing their trash output, conserving energy and water and rethinking their overall carbon footprint, sports entertainment, like all human activities, can do even more.  And the EPA may have just found a way to spur continued action, by displaying all the initiatives side-by-side on the new directory.

The winners look good, and those who aren’t participating look like, well, losers.

But let’s focus on the success stories, many of which are highlighted at the new site. Here you’ll be heartened to learn that major U.S. sports leagues and teams have fired off many green programs. Here’s a sampling:

  • The current champion of green has to be the Philadelpia Eagles, whose operations are 100-percent green powered, thanks to 11,000 on-site solar panels and a distinctive phalanx of wind turbines that went online earlier this year. The panels will provide about one-third of the stadium’s needs, with the rest coming from purchased Renewable Electricity Credits (RECs).
  • The Cleveland Indians cut their annual waste in half between 2007 and 2010 by collecting food leftovers and composting them. This reduced outgoing trash pick ups by about 60 percent, resulting in fewer carbon emissions and a $50,000 savings for the club.
  • Many NBA teams have lunged forward with green practices as well. Notably, several NBA arenas have won LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for their retrofitted or new energy-efficient operations, including the Atlanta Hawks (the first existing arena to go green — in 2009), Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers.

Sports facilities, which can really run up the numbers on energy use, are proving to be fertile ground for sustainability improvements.

Two years ago we were treated to a close up look at one of the greenest features at the new Cowboys Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys football team.

The glitzy, gargantuan stadium, often likened to a spaceship, seems more otherworldly than of the earth. Yet, even it was built with a few groundbreaking green ideas. There’s permeable pavement in parking areas, which allows rainwater to penetrate the ground; end zone doors that open create a giant, cooling breezeway and a wall of glass windows provides day lighting for the cavernous building.

But the stadium’s greenest feature may well be the composting machine hidden away in a corner of the industrial size kitchen. It rotates and chomps food waste until its literally reduced to its elements, turning the waste into grey water that can be easily reused.

Sports teams also are looking outward, beyond their immediate facilities, to enlist fans and teammates in giving back to the planet.

The National Hockey League, for instance, launched Hat Tricks for Trees, in which the league donated money for trees for every hat trick during 2012-2013 season and playoffs. The donations supported The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees program, which aims to restore tropical forests in Brazil, raising enough cash to replant more than 1,000 trees.

The NHL parlayed the program into a blog trick, featuring video of the tree-supporting hat tricks here.

Along with the majors, college sports teams are making big green changes, and so are other sports, like motor racing and snow skiing. The latter has perhaps the most incentive to work to slow climate change, which threatens the sport’s very existence.