Friday, February 13, 2015

The Green Teams Part II

I try to be energy conscious and waste as little as I can. Then again, I am lucky to live in a part of the country that allows me use public transportation (or walk) to almost any destination, does not have air conditioning in any apartments and has compost and recycling bins nearly everywhere. (For those of you that don't know, I moved to Seattle! and am happily still working full-time for the Clean Energy Organization.) I never use a hair dryer for more than a few minutes and only run big appliances (laundry, dishwasher) after peak hours. My microwave and stove get used once a day, max. But this is energy use on a very small scale for one very small person. 

SCREAMS inefficiency
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So what happens when, instead of being in charge of just your own energy use, you’re suddenly in charge of hosting tens, even hundreds, of thousands of fans (who are hungry and thirsty, cold or hot, and may be seated far from the action of the game) in a stadium that holds all of these people, food and ticketing staff, security plus the stars of the event and their managers, coaches, team owners, etc? Not only is there a need for several food and beverage booths, powerful HVAC systems, jumbotrons, surround sound speaker systems, expansive locker rooms, and numerous multi-stall bathrooms, but everything (and by everything, I mean every nook and cranny) has to be brightly lit and perfectly air conditioned. That sentence included A LOT of energy-draining things, which can only mean that the energy needed to power all of them is nothing shy of A TON. And as I mentioned in Part I of this mini-series, it seems hypocritical to live as I do and work where I do when I also snatch up every opportunity I get to go to one of these events.

We energy-enthusiast sports fans got lucky, though, because the industry has been significantly decreasing its energy use for a few years now. At this massive scale, energy use will always be high, but hosting these events in a LEED building or incorporating solar panels does make a difference. Take the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania for example. In 2010, 40,000 solar panels were installed; they power the entire facility and cut the raceway’s annual energy bill by over $500,000! That’s a lot of savings! It was also the first raceway to participate in the Dream Machine program, which provides a fast and easy way for fans to recycle. You can read more about these and other green initiatives here; and think about incorporating similar practices yourself because as the Raceway itself declares, “it’s not that tricky”.

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I've been playing tennis for nearly two decades now and learning that the US Open Tennis Center in Queens has been going green since they launched a pilot program in 2008 with NRDC (thanks to the amazing Billie Jean King, see pages 24-26) made me very ecstatic indeed! Initiatives cover recycling, transportation, energy management, and many more facets of the jam-packed two-week event, including event merchandise. The Center reduced water flow by 75 percent (!!!) in 2011 with new low-flow faucets; all match balls are reused in summer camps or donated to community organizations; all tennis ball canisters are taken apart so each metal and plastic component can be recycled separately and correctly. Plus, the Center composts almost all of its waste, down to the cooking oil. What does this amount to each year? HUGE savings and hundreds of tons of waste diverted from landfills. Can’t beat that!

NFL and MLB fans, stay tuned for Part III!

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