Stepping up to the Plate: Baseball is Going Green
Baseball has always been associated with the green fields of summer. In recent years, however, professional baseball franchises have been going green in a different way, reducing their energy use and carbon emissions and using renewable energy.
AT&T Park. When it comes to sustainability and energy efficiency, AT&T Park—home of the San Francisco Giants—has always led the way. In 2010, the park became the first major league stadium to earn the LEED Silver Certification for Existing Buildings. The park also made history by becoming the first ballpark in the nation with solar energy. Installed in 2007, the system provides 122 kilowatts of renewable power to people in the Bay Area.
Petco Park. The San Diego Padres are a real contender in energy efficiency. In 2016, the team updated park lighting to high-performance LED technology. The number of light fixtures was reduced from 768 to 400. The team not only reduced energy costs, but the higher quality LED fixtures provided more light on the field. Upgrading to water-efficient toilets and urinals saved an estimated 390,000 gallons of water. When it comes to waste, the Padres leave little on the field. The team recycles cooking oil and donates grass clippings from the field to a local greenery for composting.
Safeco Field. Starting with the 2015 season, the Seattle Mariners became the first team to illuminate its playing field with high-efficiency LED lighting. The new lighting system has benefits beyond just lower energy costs. Lights can be tuned to the blue end of the visual spectrum during games to increase player alertness. An array of 168 solar panels was installed on the stadium in 2012. The system generates 40,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each year to power internal TVs and monitors.
Green is not exclusive to the big leagues. Minor league clubs are taking sustainability to the next level.
Raley Field. The Sacramento River Cats have initiated a number of green initiatives, including an in-park garden installed in 2015. The all-natural garden features a water-efficient drip system. Harvests are donated to local charities. Through the club's water conservation efforts, water usage at Riley Field is down by 25 percent since 2013. In 2016, the club implemented River Cats Road Relief, a program designed to encourage fans to use environmentally friendly transportation when visiting the ballpark.
Avista Stadium in Spokane, Wash. is the playing field for the Spokane Indians. Since 2010, the ballpark has been powered exclusively by renewable energy. Most of the power is provided by wind energy, although biomass and geothermal are also used. The club moved evening game times to 6:30 p.m. to reduce the need for stadium lighting, which saved 20 percent on energy costs.
Lake Elsinore Diamond is the home of the Lake Elsinore Storm, a member of the Class A California League. The club has implemented a number of sustainability measures. These include an advanced irrigation system, waterless urinals, tankless water heaters and state-of-the-art LED lights. The program has been a big success, saving $20,000 in annual energy costs and more than 25 million gallons of water over a two-year period.
With these and other sustainability efforts at ballparks around the nation, the future of baseball is looking greener than ever.