Tuesday, July 24, 2012

White House, Green Goals

Last week, MSA and the Baltimore Orioles participated in a White House conference on sustainability in sports called “Greening the Games.”

The conference drew stadium operations officials from a broad spectrum of professional sports all over the country.  Seen here is Seattle Mariners VP of Ballpark Operations at Safeco Field, Scott Jenkins. 

Seattle is seen as a real vanguard in the "green sports" movement for the many ways they implement environmental practices into their everyday operations. Among their achievements is a recycling/composting rate for ballpark events that is now over 80%, among the highest in sports.

The program spotlighted efforts of professional sports teams and facilities to operate more sustainably. One panel featured Robert Nutting, owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Mike Richter, former New York Rangers goalie and partner in Environmental Capital Partners, and Mike Lynch, NASCAR Green Innovations.

As one would suspect, Portland is also committed to green practices, and consider themselves (like their team) Trail Blazers in the movement. Their Green Sports Alliance, along with the Trail Blazers themselves, were a part of the forum.  After the White House conference, the Green Sports Alliance was headed to London to participate in the environmental outreach efforts associated with the Olympics.

This April, the Trail Blazers unveiled a two-story "living wall" in the Rose Quarter.  It not only demonstrates the technology using plants to purify air, but also provides information to educate fans about Portland's ecodistrict program.

Matt Kastel and Jeff Provenzano represented Maryland Stadium Authority, and Alison McAvoy, Director of Event Operations, represented the Orioles at the conference.

While Camden Yards has improved dramatically in recycling and resource conservation in recent years, the ideas exchanged at the White House conference were invaluable to making further strides in stadium sustainability.

Perhaps the most important role sports can take in the effort is that of visibility and universal acceptance.  Forum organizers acknowlege that 60% of all Americans are sports fans and regularly follow their team(s).   In the past sports provided impetus to civil rights and opportunities for women via its connection with the public; it can do the same for environmental practices in leading by example.

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