The crack of the bat. The smell of lush green grass. The gentle whoosh of a low flow, energy efficient urinal. It can only mean one thing: major league baseball opening day is here, and with it comes an opportunity to see which teams LEED the standings in energy efficient stadiums.
While many major league baseball teams may be not be immune from gambling on a multimillion dollar contract for a left-handed middle reliever that may or may not pan out, more teams are recognizing that taking steps to make their cathedrals of baseball more energy efficient pays good dividends – financially, and as environmental stewards.
Recent stadium construction projects in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and now Miami have taken steps to achieve LEED certification. The city of Los Angeles has announced intentions to build a LEED certified football stadium; after that, all they’ll need to do is find a team to play there.
Miami Stadium, the new home of the newly renamed Miami Marlins, is a bit of an engineering marvel as the first LEED silver certified ballpark with a retractable roof. The three heat-reflecting roof panels that span the stadium collectively weigh 19 million pounds but can still move at a pace of 39-feet per minute when opening or closing, more than can be said of several of the league’s heaviest (literally) hitters. Powered by 76 10 horsepower electric motors, the roof can open or close in about 15 minutes at a mere cost of about $10 – good luck spending less than that during one trip to the concession stand. Large glass panels at the ends of the stadium will also reduce the need for lighting.
And a tropical location is not a prerequisite for having an energy efficient stadium. Target Field opened in 2010 in Minneapolis and also is LEED certified. The stadium includes a large cistern that wraps around the field’s warning track, collecting rain water that is filtered and reused to irrigate the field and wash down the seating bowl. Target Field also is a hub for public transportation options, including rail, bike and bus routes. A team of low-emission sled dogs will also be considered for use in fan transportation in April and September.
Also, Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., was the first stadium to earn LEED silver certification when it opened in 2008. As with the stadiums in Minneapolis and Miami, the park was built on a former brownfield location. The inclusion of efficient field lighting is expected to reduce energy costs by nearly $500,000 over 25 years, and additional measures, including Light Emitting Diodes powered scoreboards and heat-recovery ventilation in the locker rooms will drop costs further. Low-flow faucets, dual-flush toilets and air-cooled chillers – instead of water-cooled, will save nearly 10 million gallons of water each year.
With all of this saving, these teams should have plenty of money to spend on that spaghetti-armed middle reliever.