How the Rivals are Both Scoring Home Runs in Sustainability
PLUS: Super Bowl LII Goes Green!
By Chris Gillespie
Whether you’re wearing Red Sox red or Yankees navy blue, if you’re attending one of these teams’ home games, you’re really rooting for the green team. Both the historic Fenway Park in Boston and the recently-built Yankee Stadium in the Bronx have pretty great batting averages when it comes to sustainability.
Red Sox fans might be surprised to learn that the Green Monster is not the only part of Fenway Park’s iconic skyline that is green.
In 2008, the Red Sox installed twenty-eight solar hot water panels on the roof behind Fenway’s home plate, becoming the first team in the history of Major League Baseball (MLB) to do so. According to the Red Sox’s website, the panels help heat water used throughout the ballpark and replace 37% of the gas traditionally used in the process. Annually, the solar panels reduce Fenway Park’s carbon emissions by 18 tons, which is the annual carbon sequestration of 15 acres of U.S. forests.
A nearby rooftop on Fenway’s third base side is home to “Fenway Farms,” a 5,000 square foot garden that grows herbs and vegetables to be used in the ballpark’s various food offerings. A black rubber membrane roof until its “green-ification” in 2015, Fenway Farms can now yield roughly 4,000 pounds of produce a year. In addition to utilizing Fenway Farms’ local produce, the kitchens in Fenway send excess food waste to local Massachusetts farms where it can be used as high-quality compost.
On the ground level, Fenway is home to single-stream recycling containers, which makes it easy for park guests to recycle. The perimeter surrounding Fenway is lined with Big Belly Solar Trash and Recycling Stations, which are innovative public trash cans that are specifically designed to hold a high amount of waste and consequently reduce the frequent need of fuel-guzzling trash collection vehicles.
Not to be outdone by their rivals to the north, the New York Yankees recognized the importance and power of thinking sustainably when building their new stadium in 2009. The team’s official website reports that, during the stadium’s construction, 75% of the construction waste was diverted from landfills. In terms of architecture, the stadium’s Great Hall entranceway utilizes gigantic open-air archways that eliminate the need for air conditioning by facilitating air circulation and natural cooling.
Similar to the Red Sox, the Yankees have adapted their food service practices to make less of an impact on the environment. All disposable cutlery and food-service packaging in Yankee Stadium are made of compostable materials rather than petroleum-based plastics. Over the course of a typical season, Yankee Stadium’s kitchens also collect more than 20,000 gallons of cooking oil and recycle it into almost 19,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel.
In 2016, the Yankees made history by becoming just the second team in MLB to install super-efficient LED field lighting in their home ballpark. The LED lighting system saves enough energy to power about 45 homes every day. Overall, Yankee Stadium is considered a “low-carbon-impact-venue” due to its participation in Hess Energy’s C-Neutral carbon offsetting program, in which the Yankees compensate for their stadium’s greenhouse gas emissions by investing in national and international sustainability projects.
U.S. Bank Stadium: A Touchdown of Sustainable Engineering
Although it is far too soon for anyone to know which NFL teams will compete in Super Bowl LII, football fans can get psyched up knowing that the upcoming showdown will take place in one of the most sustainable, state-of-the-art, domed stadiums in the country. Opened in 2016, U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, not only looks futuristic—it also boasts an assortment of green-minded designs and sustainable technology befitting of the twenty-first century.
As reported on the Minnesota Vikings’ website, U.S. Bank Stadium is the first NFL venue to be built with an advanced LED lighting system that allows for instant on-and-off capabilities while using 75% less energy compared to metal halide lights.
Although the LED lighting system is impressive, the Vikings plan on minimizing its use by taking advantage of the immense amount of natural lighting that the facility’s extraordinary roof provides. More than half of U.S. Bank Stadium’s roof covering is made of a clear, plastic-like material called ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), which facilitates the use of sunlight as a free year-round source of natural heat and light for the stadium. By using a lightweight building material such as ETFE instead of conventional steel, the Vikings were able to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the stadium’s construction process.
Generally, stadiums built in areas with snowy winters require a lot of steel to support their roofs, however, the shape of U.S. Bank Stadium’s roof made it possible to forgo an estimated 2,000 tons of steel. The steep, asymmetrical design allows snow to quickly roll down the roof and into a giant, heated snow gutter that brings the water straight to the stadium’s storm water control system.
Low-flow plumbing technology is expected to reduce the U.S. Bank Stadium’s water usage by 5.67 million gallons annually.
You don’t have to be a professional athlete or a team owner to be a green energy all-star. Keep exploring this edition of Green Energy Times or visit greenenergytimes.org for more tips on how to make your “home base” more sustainable and efficient.
Chris Gillespie is a contributing writer for Green Energy Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.