Green sports

Leslie Kaufman reported an interesting trend on the New York Times Green blog: the sports industry is going green:

In a new report titled “Game Changer: How the Sports Industry Is Saving the Environment,” the Natural Resources Defense Council presents case studies of greening initiatives by sports leagues and franchises like switching from fossil fuels to solar energy, installing low-flush toilets to save water and conspicuously displaying recycling bins. We learn that:

  • As of last year, 17 percent of court surfaces at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens were made of post-industrial recycled content. Ultra-low-flow faucets there have reduced water flow by 75 percent.
  • The National Hockey League purchased certified carbon offsets to compensate for all of the energy consumed at the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and recycled all of the cardboard, bottles and cans used at the game.
  • Before the N.C.A.A. Final Four events at Reliant Stadium in Houston in the spring of 2011, the conference and its partners organized an e-waste collection event in which more than 25,000 pounds of electronics were taken there to be disassembled and processed.
  • In the summer of 2010, a 25-acre solar array was installed in a former parking lot at the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

The impacts of these greening initiatives are not known currently and the cost savings for the greener sports venues may not be extensive, but the effect of these initiatives has potential to reach outside of the industry and to the fans:

How these measures stack up against the resources consumed by the sports industry is not spelled out. Certainly the energy savings are modest by comparison with the industry’s enormous energy expenditures. But then, said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the council who collaborates with the sports industry on greening initiatives, that’s not really the point for now. The goal, he said, is to raise the public’s consciousness about environmentally responsible behavior.

There is no reliable way to quantify the overall impact on sports fans, but Dr. Hershkowitz maintains that the industry has made a big difference. “Now it is about baseball, motherhood, apple pie and environmental protection,” he said.

You can read the full article here: