Ballparks Going Green
Venues Reach Sustainability Goals with Careful Planning, Fan Outreach, Employee Training
Hot dogs, peanuts, and fresh cut grass—that’s right, baseball season is upon us! Millions of baseball fans are pouring into stadiums across the nation to see that first pitch and eat ice cream out of baby batting helmets. It’s a big deal and a big operation with lots of planning—as well as opportunities to practice sustainability.
Petco Park—San Diego
I saw those opportunities firsthand last year when I visited Petco Park in San Diego on a tour of less-waste facilities. Our group was given a behind-the-scenes look at the entire ballpark, including locker rooms, dining areas, box seats, and even the field, all of which were meticulously designed to provide a fun sporting experience with a smaller impact on the environment. Green initiatives include recycling programs for cooking oil, food waste, green waste, e-waste, and uniforms, just to name a few. Less-waste goals are communicated through fan outreach and employee training. My personal favorite is a Padres program allowing employees to bring hard-to-recycle items like CFLs, batteries, cell phones, and wine corks to work for collection.
From its recycling program to food waste diversion and energy conservation, it’s no wonder Petco Park has been awarded several environmental awards including our CalRecycle Waste Reduction Award in 2011.
For an eco-nerd like me, it was fascinating to see the many ways a major sports facility can incorporate green practices for fans who likely don’t have the environment on their mind at the time. Here is a list of other eco-conscious sporting event venues leading the way in California.
This arena sits just blocks from the state Capitol in downtown Sacramento and has been named the greenest arena in the United States. It was certified LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council for water conservation and energy efficiency (including solar panels), and for the materials used for construction. In fact, 99.5 percent of demolition material was reused, recycled, or salvaged, equaling approximately 94,150 tons of waste diverted from landfills. The arena also sources the majority of its food from local businesses and farms, cutting down on carbon emissions and helping Sacramento earn its title of America’s Farm-to-Fork capital.
AT&T Park—San Francisco
Located at the water’s edge, AT&T Park has it all—a stack of environmental awards, the highest recycling rate in major-league baseball, LEED certifications, sustainable concessions, and home to a franchise with eight World Series titles! What also makes AT&T Park a champion for the environment are its water conservation efforts and energy efficiency, including a solar power system that generates green energy not just for ballpark operations, but for PG&E customers throughout San Francisco. Over the past 11 years, AT&T Park’s solar power system has provided enough energy to continuously power more than 5,200 homes. The park also maintains a garden that serves as a community classroom and provides fresh produce for schools and community nonprofits as well as ballpark guests.