Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Introduction

With the longevity of the earth and its environment becoming such a prominent focus of today’s society, it is important to look into how established corporations, especially those not traditionally thought of as being environmental leaders, can do their part to preserve the natural environment.  Sports teams and stadiums include hundreds of possibilities located across the globe that are prime candidates for such “green changes”.  Various sporting events and venues have had sustainable goals in mind starting as early as 1994 with the Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer (Furrer). Germany implemented a “Green Goal” for their stadium when they hosted the World Cup in 1996 and South Africa followed the same plan in 2010 (Sebake).  It was not until Sydney hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 2000, games which were “the most ecologically responsible in history” that events really began to take the environment into account and set sustainable standards (Furrer). 
Sustainability includes three key components: economy, environment, and society; and green initiatives should not be limited to international sporting events.  Sports organizations in the United States, Major League Baseball (the MLB) in particular, need to take part in environmental stewardship.  Not only is the MLB extremely large (it includes 32 Major League parks, 24 spring training facilities, and 119 Minor League parks) , but it’s prominence in popular culture and ability to make an impact in terms of education through contact[1] are key features that should make the greening of Major League Baseball a priority.  Such actions would not only benefit the environment, but would also provide marketing benefits to the organizations and educational benefits to fans that are exposed to the concepts (Vanderweil).
The MLB has already started to make its move towards sustainability.  In 2008, MLB and the NRDC announced the joint creation of a Team Greening Project.   Commissioner Bud Selig said that "Baseball is a social institution with social responsibilities, and caring for the environment is inextricably linked to all aspects of our game. Sound environmental practices make sense in every way and protect our natural resources for future generations of baseball fans" (Platt).  In 2009, the MLB set up guidelines for its teams and facilities to meet higher environmental standards and multiple organizations in the MLB have already started making “green” changes.
 Several teams are focusing on sustainable architecture to do their part.  Some new stadiums are being built to meet LEED standards and others are being renovated to gain LEED for existing buildings certification.  LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a third party verification system that certifies buildings or communities being built using sustainable strategies.  There are currently three teams with stadiums that have earned a LEED certification: the Washington Nationals (LEED Silver in 2008), Minnesota Twins (LEED Silver in 2010), and San Francisco Giants (LEED Silver for existing buildings in 2010).  Various other teams, including the Florida Marlins, are in the process of making the changes necessary to gain LEED certification.
An architectural certification is not the only way for MLB organizations to take part in environmental stewardship.  Any and every change implemented by a stadiums organization will be beneficial to the earth and its environment; and, as mentioned earlier, the corporations can use their influence to inspire changes among individuals.  The MLB and NRDC even plan to “provide materials throughout the league's ballparks to encourage fans to make environmental changes in their own homes and businesses” (Platt).  A few of the current strategies being used by some teams are:  using recycled steel and coal for stadium construction (NY Mets), installing solar panels (Colorado Rockies, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians), creating carpool initiatives (Tampa Bay), and implementing all-inclusive recycling programs that keep things from grass clippings to office paper from reaching the landfill (Texas Rangers).
The purpose of this study is to determine what MLB organizations are doing to ensure that their venues are running sustainably and what can be done to improve upon their efforts (or lack there of).


[1] Education through contact- When a person is confronted with and immersed in something they are more likely to gain knowledge of the subject and possibly even become interested, especially if it is related to something they are already interested in.