Sports Stadiums and Arenas Announce Energy Efficiency Goals at White House

12/02/2011 06:35 pm ET | Updated Feb 01, 2012

President Obama is today announcing nearly $4 billion of investments in combined federal and private sector energy upgrades to buildings over the next 2 years. Today's commitments, announced along with representatives from more than 60 organizations, are part of the administration's Better Buildings Initiative, launched in February 2011 by President Obama.

The Better Building Initiative is designed to support job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades to make America's buildings 20 percent more efficient over the next decade. The goal is to reduce energy costs for American businesses by nearly $40 billion.

Joining President Obama today at the White House will be Martin Tull, Executive Director of the Green Sports Alliance. The Green Sports Alliance is a coalition founded in 2010 by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and six professional sports teams based in the Pacific Northwest representing six different professional sports Leagues, including the Seattle Mariners (MLB), the Seattle Seahawks (NFL), The Seattle Sounders (MLS), the Portland Trail Blazers (NBA), the Seattle Storm (WNBA), and the Vancouver Canucks (NHL).

The mission of the Green Sports Alliance is to support professional sports teams and leagues by advancing and coordinating their work toward improved environmental stewardship.

Since its founding in 2010, the Green Sports Alliance has grown into a national organization that now includes the support of eight North American professional sports leagues and more than 35 professional sports teams.

The stadiums and arenas used by Green Sports Alliance member teams currently represent over 20 million square feet of facilities in 17 North American cities. Last year, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20 percent of all the energy used by the U.S. economy.

As a partner in the Better Buildings Initiative, the Green Sports Alliance will help coordinate GSA members to reduce the energy use of their facilities by at least 20% by 2020 in aggregate. Green Sports Alliance members will identify and undertake energy conservation projects and will promote the Better Buildings Initiative to all new members and partners.

Green Sports Alliance members are already proving that this goal is attainable. In the past two years, the World Champion St Louis Cardinals reduced their overall energy use at Busch Stadium by 24%. Similarly, the Seattle Mariners and Portland Trail Blazers have implemented conservation strategies and facility improvements that have already resulted in energy savings of 30%. And Century Link Field, home to the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC, is completing an energy retrofit that will reduce its energy use by 16%. In Los Angeles, AEG's STAPLES Center, another GSA member, is implementing a variety of conservation measures through their ISO 14001 certified Environmental Management System to reduce electricity consumption overall by 12%. Most recently they have begun a comprehensive lighting retrofit that will replace almost 3,000 halogen fixtures with more energy efficient LEDs throughout the facility by early 2012, saving over $80,000 per year.

Supporting the Better Buildings Initiative will help encourage professional sports teams and their venues to implement conservation projects that will result in significant financial and environmental performance.

Equally important, the ongoing work of these professional sports teams on behalf of environmental stewardship will help educate millions of sports fans to the fact that all of us, every business and every individual, needs to take action to address the great ecological crises of our time, including global climate disruption and biodiversity loss.

Moreover, the supply chain of professional sports is also being influenced by this industry's greening efforts. As an industry generating approximately $450 billion in annual economic activity, professional sports is among the largest industries in the United States, and certainly among the most influential. All industries meet at a professional sporting event: the auto industry, the food and beverages industries, the plastics industry, the textiles industry, the chemical industry, the banking industry: all of these industries sponsor of affiliate with professional ports in some way.

Consequently, when professional sports go green, these global industries notice.

With all professional sports leagues now working to address global climate disruption and other ecological ills, a cultural shift in our society's relationship to environmentalism is taking place. Ecological discussions are moving intelligently away from the low road of partisan politics and instead, towards the high ground of smart business practices and civilized, socially responsible behavior.