Pro-sports environmental initiatives: Will fans go green too?

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When we think of die-hard sports fans, many of us may sway towards images of stocky, meat-hungry jocks named Chad who like to crush beer cans on their foreheads after chugging one down. But one blog post on shows a different side to the pro-sports industry and its fans.

According to Time columnist Bryan Walsh, efforts have been underway since 2003 to help “green” the multi-billion dollar industry. Yesterday, the the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report. It highlighted some of the best environmental initiatives being carried out by NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and WNBA teams. Apparently, more than a quarter of them have shifted to renewable energy for at least some of their operations. Meanwhile, more than half have energy efficiency programs.

There’s little doubt that pro-sports teams leave behind a huge carbon footprint after each game. Fuelling the millions of fans and hundreds of stadiums across the country is certainly an immense task.

But the NRDC hopes that pro-sports can demonstrate that going green isn’t extreme.

Below is a statement from NRDC’s green sports project director, Allen Hershkowitz:

A cultural shift in environmental awareness is needed in order for us to address the serious ecological problems we face, and the sports industry, through its own innovative actions, has chosen to lead the way. Pro sports are showing that smart energy, water and recycling practices make sense.  They save money and prevent waste.  That’s as mainstream and non-partisan as it comes.

Walsh writes that clean energy and efficiency are “pretty mainstream and non-partisan notions, especially when they’re removed from the messiness of politics and stripped for the most part of any mention of more sensitive topics like climate change.” He goes on to note that if solar panels and biodiesel are good enough for the Eagles (whose Lincoln Financial Field is set to become the first stadium in the U.S. capable of generation 100% of its energy on site) it should be good enough for all Americans. Maybe even Cowboys fans.

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Walsh says highlights from the report include:

  • The NHL has introduced Gallons for Goals, committing to restore 1,000 gallons of water to a critically dewatered river in the Northwest for every goal scored in the regular season.
  • This year the Cleveland Indian’s Progressive Field became the first stadium to install a wind turbine, which generates more than 40,000 kilowatt hours per year.
  • The Seattle Mariners replaced an incandescent scoreboard with an LED one, reducing electricity consumption by more than 90%.
  • In one year, energy efficiency at the Miami Heat’s American Airlines Arena resulted in 53% less energy use than the average facility of the same size.
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