By Rick Fedrizzi, CEO & Founding Chairman, U.S. Green Building Council
Eight years ago, in the nation’s capital, the Washington Nationals Park baseball stadium became the first major professional sports stadium in the country to be recognized for its leadership in sustainable building, achieving LEED® certification and making it a shining example of how sports and sustainability are coming together to make a positive impact on our communities and our planet.
Today, I am excited to see that President Obama has taken note of this special connection between sports and sustainability by issuing a presidential message to inaugurate the first-ever National Green Sports Day.
Athletes inspire us with their leadership—not only on the field or court, but also in our communities and society, where they are speaking up and engaging with their teammates and fans on the impact climate change is having on sports. The stadiums and venues that captivate us in the thrill of the game are increasingly beacons for excellence in energy sustainability through new technologies and innovative strategies to cut carbon pollution, saving millions of dollars each year in the process. I’m encouraged that through these efforts and the voices of our athletes, the fan experience for our children will be a greener one.
We commend the president and the work his administration is doing to support and advance sustainability leaders in sport.
I’m also proud to say that USGBC® has worked with the sports community for more than a decade, establishing a long record of collaboration in helping sports leaders take action to save energy, conserve water, reduce waste and even help transform neighborhoods.
Clearly, these professional sports stadiums and venues are a big part of the story of sustainability leadership in sports. I remember in 2012 when Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, became the first National Football League stadium to achieve LEED certification.
To demonstrate its environmental stewardship, Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, supported clean energy by employing 11,000 solar panels and 14 wind turbines. In 2014, the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium achieved LEED Gold, and just this week, it has recertified to LEED Gold for Existing Buildings, demonstrating its commitment to ongoing performance improvement.
Today, more than 30 professional sport stadiums, arenas and other venues are LEED-certified.
I’m also happy to see the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency teaming up now to gather key energy performance data in sport venues that will help create an Energy Star score for this sector, serving as a national benchmark on energy and water use for sport venues.