This year marked a remarkable comeback for the San Francisco Giants, who despite a rocky early season, came back to sweep the Detroit Tigers and win the World Series. Although normally drawn to the drama of the Fall Classic, this year’s sustainability story peaked my interest in this year’s contest.
Major League Baseball (MLB) has put environmental issues front and center on baseball’s biggest stage. The first professional sports league to partner with the National Research Defense Council (NRDC), MLB officials and NRDC experts came together to discuss a league greening initiative titled the “Commissioner’s Initiative on Sustainable Stadium Operations and Team Practices”.
Backed by a variety of league events and team initiatives, the MLB is encouraging teams and venues to start greening and incorporating sustainable measures into their operations. To kick off the league’s initiatives, the NRDC developed the NRDC Greening Advisor, an online environmental resource that has been customized and distributed to each team in the league.
World Series contender’s strong supporters of greening initiatives
The Giants have made numerous efforts to promote environmentally responsible living. In partnership with Pacific Gas and Electric, the Giants installed a solar panel system to generate energy in San Francisco – the first such system in a MLB park. These efforts build off the Giant’s shining achievement in 2000 when the AT&T Park became the first Major League ballpark to receive Leed Silver Certification.
Further east, the Tigers have taken steps to green their ballpark with the installation of the Tiger Den Seats, audience seating comprised of recycled plastic milk jugs.
Sport and Sustainability
The driving force behind the MLB’s greening initiatives remains its commitment to the fundamental principles of sport.
“Baseball is a social institution with social responsibilities and caring for the environment is inextricably linked to all aspects of the game. Sound environmental practices make sense in every way and protect out natural resources for future generations of baseball fans.” – MLB Commissioner, Allan H. (Bud) Selig
In addition to the environmental benefits, the monetary benefits for professional sports leagues are robust, from saving thousands of dollars on energy, waste, and water bills to creating new sponsorship opportunities and enhancing brand value with corporate social responsibility.
We give a thumbs-up to MLB’s commitment to sustainability, although certainly much work remains to be done. Having recently participated in the “Sports and Sustainability” discussion held by the White House, the MLB continues to be an example of major league sport industry’s success in adopting more sustainable practices. As teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies continue to add solar energy projects to their list of investments, we will continue to monitor MLB into 2013. Check back with us for more updates on how MLB is taking the next steps in the clean energy movement.