Sports tourism is a growing industry, and many fans have a goal on their bucket list to watch a game in every Major League Baseball (MLB) or National Football League (NFL) stadium in the country.
By some estimates, this industry will grow from its current value of $1.41 trillion to $5.72 trillion by 2021, positioning cities with professional sports stadiums to improve the game-day experience, while showcasing the benefits of sustainable design.
One city making the most of this opportunity is Baltimore, Maryland, where the Maryland Stadium Authority’s (MSA) commitment to green building is evident at the LEED Gold venues Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, home to MLB’s Orioles and the NFL’s Ravens, respectively.
Given they receive a lot of attention nationwide, the MSA says these stadiums are more than just a venue for fans to see games. They serve as a channel for sending a positive message to the public.
With sustainability practices such as recycling, composting and energy conservation now common in the average home, MSA’s commitment to sustainability reinforces these practices, validating the homeowner’s individual efforts. The MSA calls this “walking the walk,” according to David Abell, Manager, LEED for Cities and Communities.
Cleaning up the grounds
One accomplishment the MSA is especially proud of is removing unsightly cigarette waste from sidewalks and subsequently diverting this potentially toxic waste from landfills and waterways. They accomplished this by placing nine cigarette receptacles near the B&O Warehouse, which is near Oriole Park at Camden Yards and receives a lot of pedestrian traffic from both Orioles and Ravens fans on game days.
Moreover, the MSA partnered with a company that collects the cigarette waste and processes it into plastic pellets for use in a variety of recycled products, while the remaining tobacco is composted.
Similarly, the MSA enlists the help of several nonprofit organizations to engage tailgaters in sustainable practices such as recycling of bottles and cans.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Certified LEED Gold under Existing Buildings in 2018
According to the MSA, Oriole Park at Camden Yards has achieved impressive results from its sustainability initiatives. The stadium’s low-flow water fixtures have reduced water usage by 27%, and energy-efficient equipment upgrades have led to usage 45% better than the national median. Moreover, 59% of the materials purchased for upgrades were sustainable, and 74% of the construction waste was recycled.
One especially important, ongoing practice is the use of materials containing low VOCs during remodeling projects. Workspaces are also subsequently flushed out with fresh air, protecting indoor air quality and creating a healthier environment for fans and stadium employees alike.
M&T Bank Stadium
Certified LEED Gold under Existing Buildings in 2013; Recertified in 2019
Similarly, the Ravens’ home stadium has achieved noteworthy results. Low-flow water fixtures reduce usage by 43%, and the stadiums saves over 3 million gallons of water annually with waterless urinals and other high-performance restroom fixtures. The structure is also 27% more energy-efficient than the national average and recycles 31% of its regular waste.
Encouraging the use of public and alternative transportation is one of the most notable features improving the experience for fans and employees. Currently, 10% of game-day visitors use a light rail service, and another 2% use buses through the “Ravens Ride” program. In addition, 38% of M&T Bank Stadium employees use alternative transportation getting to work.
Beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions, these sustainability practices allow easier access for all visitors by reducing the number of vehicles on-site./p>
Both stadiums have additional sustainability features that are not as visible, including state-of-the-art building automation systems for energy management and sustainable purchasing.
Onward and upward
Even though the MSA has already made a significant contribution to sustainability, its environmental team remains focused on continuous improvement. As a catalyst for maintaining a climate where industry can flourish and contribute to the community that supports it, the MSA also takes pride in doing its part to build a greener, cleaner world for all of us.