Sports teams going green

by Josh Burkholder – “SportStance” Columnist

It’s the evening after a big game, long after the final buzzer sounded or the last out was recorded.  Players, fans, and coaches have gone home, and all is finally quiet.  That’s when the last bit of trash is swept up and disposed of, the lights go out, and sprinklers come on.

Every stadium has their own way of doing it, and for the most part maintenance goes unnoticed by everyone except for the crew that actually takes care of it.  It’s just something that people take for granted and never give a second thought to.  What they don’t realize, though, is that the way these crews take care of their fields can have a great impact on the environment, whether good or bad.

Currently, Hesston College is in the midst of InsideOUT Month, four weeks dedicated to human and environmental sustainability. With that in mind, I decided to find out just what stadiums across the country have been doing to go green, and discuss some ways that Hesston College itself has and can become more environmentally sound.

Here are just a few examples of what professional and college sports teams have been doing to become more environmentally friendly:

  • In 2008, the Philadelphia Eagles and Lincoln Financial Field produced 97 percent of their energy through renewable sources.
  • By using highly efficient lighting, the Washington Nationals have a 21 percent energy savings at their Nationals Park, and they’ve reduced their water consumption by 30 percent by using plumbing designed to conserve water. To make their use of water more effective, the Nationals used drought-resistant plants that require less water in their landscaping. When constructing their stadium, 10 percent of the construction material was recycled content and most of the remaining material was regionally produced to avoid long transportation.
  • The University of Colorado has a goal to make their football stadium, Folsom Field, a zero-waste stadium. Almost all of the public food and beverage containers have been converted to recyclable items or materials that can be made into compost. The program has removed all trash containers in the outdoor areas and now only offers recycling and compost bins. All finished compost will be returned to the University for landscaping.
  • Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians, uses recycled paper and cornstarch cups in its concession stands. They recycle all paper and cardboard and have set up numerous Pepsi recycling bins throughout the stadium. Other items recycled at Progressive Field include aluminum, scrap metal and batteries. All of the new signs installed in 2008 used LED lighting, and the Indians have 42 GE solar panels installed in their stadium, which provide 8.4 kilowatts of energy.

Hesston College has also been stepping up its game in regards to sustainability.   During the 2010-11 school year, the college moved from producing 40 yards of trash per week to 24 yards per week – a 40 percent decrease. At the same time, recycling moved from six yards of recycling per week to 10 yards per week – a 66 percent increase.  The baseball field has also installed new lights that use up much less energy during night games than the old ones used to.  The Yost Center gym doesn’t utilize air conditioning; they have installed two enormous fans that get the job done in a much more energy-saving, sustainable fashion.

Across campus, the maintenance and facilities staff is always thinking up and implementing new ways to go green.  This not only benefits Hesston College by saving money and reducing its carbon footprint, it also provides a great example for the students and the community to carry on in their lives once they leave the campus.

So, I’ll end with the question that we have been hearing at Hesston during this month:  What are you yourself doing to reduce your carbon footprint and make your world more environmentally-friendly?

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