Christina Nyquist Greening the Field of Professional Sports Teams

The sports world joined the environmental community at the White House this week to talk about sustainability in the sports industry. Sports venues are going green and becoming more energy efficient, starting by asking their local utilities for help.

The White House Council on Environmental Quality held a forum with leaders in the sports industry, environmental experts and advocates, and supply-chain vending and sponsor representatives to talk about the work that’s been done and how to make stadiums greener moving forward.

Measuring baseline energy use and making upgrades and improvements to buildings to cut down on energy consumption is the first step to any greening effort, most panelists acknowledged. The Natural Resources Defense Council’s Sports Greening Project works closely with the major sports leagues to work towards more sustainable business practices. They assign “Greening Advisors” who contact their energy providers to get energy audits and help in finding rebates, subsidies, and other incentives for energy efficiency improvements.

Scott Jenkins, manager of Seattle’s Safeco Field and Chairman of the Board of the Green Sports Alliance, explained that to start their efforts, his facilities team “took a look at our baseline data.”  After obtaining several energy audits and making small changes, they were able to save about $100,000 in energy costs in the first year, and are currently saving nearly $400,000 each year.

Speaking on a panel discussing on-the-ground examples of successes and challenges at major sports facilities, Joe Abernathy, Vice President of Stadium Operations at Busch Stadium in St. Louis explained that at the end of the day, savings on energy use and cost “really did come down to the efficiency of operations.”

“The assistance available out there for energy efficiency is amazing,” he said, encouraging listeners and those in the sports and business community to start their efforts by working with their local utility. “Our local utility helped us pay for a full-blown energy audit that now is our roadmap.”

American Gas Association (AGA) members continuously search for ways to help customers use natural gas more efficiently.   Members have demonstrated their commitment to promoting cost-effective and practical approaches to increasing energy efficiency in the sports world and beyond.  Many of our members power their hometown fields and stadiums with clean natural gas, as well as offer expert advice on reducing waste and improving building efficiency.

Wisconsin Public Service, part of Integrys Energy Group, works closely with the Green Bay Packers on a wide range of sustainability and energy efficiency efforts. Peoples Natural Gas in Pennsylvania works with a nonprofit energy conservation organization to evaluate energy use at the Peoples Natural Gas Field, home of minor league baseball team the Altoona Curve.  Recently, the Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Program teamed up with Major League Soccer team the Chicago Fire to encourage fans to save energy at home by finding energy-saving tips on and tracking their progress and savings.

Several examples of how AGA members are helping customers and businesses cut down energy use and save money in the sports industry include:

  • Offering low-interest financing, cash rebates, and other financial subsidies for high-efficiency natural gas appliance purchases and whole home or building efficiency improvements
  • Providing home energy audits, weatherization kits, programmable thermostats, and telephone hotlines
  • Supplying information on insulation and high-efficiency appliances
  • Connecting customers with experienced and reliable appliance and service providers
  • Providing web-based information resources and energy usage calculators 

In total, these types of utility-funded gas efficiency programs helped customers save nearly 81 trillion British Thermal Units (Btu) and avoid 4.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2010, averaging 10 percent of natural gas usage and $62 of savings in annual energy costs for residential customers.

Christina Nyquist

About Christina Nyquist

Christina Nyquist is the Communications Specialist for the American Gas Association. Prior to joining AGA, Christina served as a Writer/Editor and Public Affairs Specialist at the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Christina holds a master’s degree from the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs.
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