Going Green for the Team

Global warming, left unchecked, will have a huge impact on most sports, since a great many are played outdoors during the summer (for now) — or rely on cold weather and snow during the winter. As this CAP post suggests, some sports teams are trying to green up the game. The picture is a view from home plate at the Washington Nationals baseball stadium, Major League Baseball’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified ballpark.

Major League Baseball’s postseason playoffs began this week with Wednesday’s match up between the Phillies and Rockies. But regardless of who wins the whole league has managed to come together for the environment’s sake.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental group, has worked with MLB on several sustainable initiatives. Through an online greening advisor the council has developed individualized green solutions for all 30 MLB teams. The MLB efforts range from using recycled paper to purchasing renewable resources like wind and solar power for ballparks. The league is showcasing its environmental work on the MLB website.

The Washington Nationals may not have made the playoffs, but they have MLB’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified stadium, which was awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. The council awards bronze, silver, and gold certifications depending on how many sustainable elements are incorporated into a building’s design. The Nationals stadium’s high-efficiency field lighting, low-flow plumbing, and green roofs garnered it a silver ranking.

The National Basketball Association’s first step toward sustainability came in April 2009 with Green Week, which featured community service projects, an online auction of autographed Spalding basketballs made from 40 percent recycled materials, and a footwear drive to donate gently worn athletic shoes to youth programs in southern Africa. And the Denver Nuggets, Charlotte Bobcats, and Chicago Bulls wore green uniforms made from 45 percent organic cotton during the week to raise environmental awareness.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is joining the action, too. The 1970 Clean Air Act barred the general public from purchasing cars that ran on leaded gasoline, but racecars were exempt. Still, the sport is phasing out leaded gasoline to show its support for the environment. NASCAR has also initiated a new tree-planting program that aims to offset the industry’s carbon emissions: Every time a green flag is dropped at the beginning of a race 10 trees will be planted.

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Unfortunately, many of the sports world’s environmental efforts are out of necessity. In the past few years climate change has shortened ski season and outdoor summer football practices have become almost unbearable due to sweltering heat. Athletes from all fields are realizing that they need to join the environmental cause if they want to hold onto the sports””and the planet””they enjoy.

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