green building

11 Sports Teams and Leagues That Have Gone Green

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Carly Carroll

It’s a big week in sports. Folks are getting ready for the big game, and if you’re a hockey fan, there’s a lot of excitement out on the ice. So this week we’re focusing in on the ways that sports teams, stadiums and fans can reduce their environmental impact and take action on climate.

The great news is that many sports teams and leagues have already scored some big environmental goals. Read on to learn about a few of the big steps they’ve taken on the environment.

  1. The Philadelphia Eagles run an efficient offense under Chip Kelly and have started to bring efficiency to their cleaning strategy as well. They are using greener cleaning products that don’t contain chemicals that can harm the environment.
  2. The National Hockey League is on a power play on a number of environmental initiatives, including purchasing wind energy credits to offset all of its electricity usage for its headquarters in New York City.
  3. Consol Energy Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, is the first NHL arena to be LEED Gold Certified – the second highest level of certification.
  4. Every year, the National Basketball Association hosts NBA Green Week where it highlights what teams and players are doing to take action for a cleaner environment.
  5. The Boston Red Sox recently wrapped up a new “green monster” in Fenway Park – a five-year plan that included the installation of enough solar panels to provide 37% of their energy.
  6. While Corey Kluber fanned a lot of batters in 2014 en route to his AL Cy Young, the Cleveland Indians fanned their way to clean energy, becoming the first MLB team to install a wind turbine.
  7. The Miami Marlins are sliding into 2015 with a groundbreaking reduction in water use. New plumbing fixtures and water use plans will reduce their use by an estimated 52%, while changes to their landscape design mean a 60% reduction in water for irrigation.
  8. About 65% of the waste generated at PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, gets recycled. According to the Pirates, if the plastic bottles they’ve recycled were laid flat end to end, they would stretch from PNC Park to Yankee Stadium and back again.
  9. The St. Louis Cardinals are knocking it out of the park when it comes to reducing wasted food. Since 2008, they’ve delivered $159,462 of safe, healthy leftover food to those who need a good meal.
  10. The Seattle Mariners took a big step adding Robinson Cano to their lineup in 2014. The club has also taken big steps to enhance their energy efficiency and reduce water use. They’ve saved more than $1.75 million in electricity, gas, water and sewer bills since 2006.
  11. The Washington Nationals are leading the league on green building. Nationals Park was the first major professional stadium to become LEED Silver Certified.

Many teams, leagues and stadiums are involved with programs here at EPA like the Food Recovery Challenge and the Green Power Partnership. Check out our Green Sports website to learn more.

About the Author: Carly Carroll has worked in public engagement and environmental education for 8 years. She enjoys connecting the sports world with EPA and teaching kids about nature. She graduated from NC State University with a Masters in Science Education, but is a die-hard Tar Heel fan.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The Environmental Impact of Single-Family Homes

home construction showing cement mixer and framing

Home construction

By Ksenija Janjic

Recently, it seems like there are new houses being built left and right in my neighborhood. Not only do these houses give our neighborhood a fresh look, they also do wonders for our economy. In 2007, new single-family home construction accounted for one-third of construction-sector’s value, and brought jobs to truck drivers, accountants, engineers, contractors, managers and business owners, just to name a few. It also spurred building material sales, approvals of building permits, and extensions of services.

But not everyone realizes that when we build, use and demolish houses, we disturb and erode soil, disrupt habitats, deplete natural resources, pollute air and water and use up land. According to the Sustainable Materials Management: The Road Ahead analysis, of the significant sectors in the U.S economy, new single-family home construction was one of the most environmentally burdensome.

There is a high demand for single-family homes, and we appreciate benefits that the construction industry brings. At the same time though, we want to preserve a thriving environment and maintain plentiful resources for our children. So what can we do to ease the environmental burden of single-family homes?

In the Analysis of the Life Cycle Impacts and Potential for Avoided Impacts Associated with Single-Family Homes, EPA first fully uncovered this burden and then suggested changes to counteract it. This “life-cycle” analysis of a national scale considers goods used during “pre-occupancy”, “occupancy” and “post-occupancy” stages of single-family homes and highlights the most significant ones. EPA shows that if we grow the recovery and reuse of just a handful of building materials from single-family homes, we could notably counteract their full environmental burden.

So…as homeowners, when we repair or renovate our houses, we can ask the contractor to recover and reuse the construction and demolition scrap. As homebuyers or entrepreneurs, we can demand that our homes and properties include salvaged and recycled materials. Little by little, we can make a difference and be proud of the wonderful place we call home.

Learn more about the environmental impacts of single-family homes and how to avoid them.

About the Author: Ksenija Janjic is an Environmental Protection Specialist in EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery.  She joined EPA three years ago and has Master’s degrees in Architectural Engineering and Community Planning

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Help Us Find the Winners! National Award for Smart Growth Achievement

2012 Winner for Overall Excellence in Smart Growth: The BLVD Transformation, Lancaster, CA Photo courtesy of EPA

By Sarah Dale

Do you know a community that has made its downtown more walkable, bikable, and accessible to public transit? Used policy initiatives and regulations to improve the local environment? Turned its public parks into a driver for economic development? Then you might know a community that could apply for the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. If so, please pass this blog post along!

Communities across the country are making choices about how to grow and develop while improving environmentally, socially, and economically. Through this award, EPA recognizes and supports communities that use innovative policies and strategies to strengthen their economies, provide housing and transportation choices, develop in ways that bring benefits to a wide range of residents, and protect the environment. This year, EPA is

2012 Winner for Equitable Development: The Mariposa District, Denver, CO Photo courtesy of EPA.

recognizing communities in four categories:

  • Built Projects
  • Corridor and Neighborhood Revitalization
  • Plazas, Parks, and Public Places
  • Policies, Programs, and Plans

Additionally, the review panel will choose one Overall Excellence winner.

Past winners are enthusiastic about the award: here’s what a few of the 2012 winners had to say:

  • “We’ve received an outstanding response from winning this award, and our project has received attention from throughout the state, across the nation, and even internationally.” Marvin Crist, Vice Mayor, Lancaster, CA
  • “Receiving the award increased awareness about what the Denver Housing Authority is doing among many different policy makers and stakeholders.” Kimball Crangle, Denver Housing Authority, Denver, CO
  • “I think the Smart Growth Award is a part of what solidified our position to the point where partners decided they wanted to be a part of this.” Scott Strawbridge, Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale, Lauderdale, FL

2012 Winner for Programs and Policies 2012: Destination Portsmouth, Portsmouth, VA Rendering courtesy of Urban Advantage.

If you know a community that is doing amazing things, encourage them to apply today! The competition is open to both public- and private-sector entities that have successfully used smart growth principles to improve communities. The application process is outlined here; the application deadline is April 12, 2013.

About the author: Sarah Dale is a special assistant with the Office of Sustainable Communities, which manages EPA’s Smart Growth Program. This is her third year managing the awards.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Better Buildings, Better Communities

By Chris Choi

Chicao Skyline from Lincoln Park Ask any seasoned green building professional, and they will tell you that an “integrated design” process is key to building a high performance structure.  This process consists of examining all building components and systems to determine how they best work together to save energy and reduce environmental impact.

At the “Applying Green Building Research Today” symposium this past summer, the conversations and sessions challenged my concept of what integrated design means—or what it should mean.

It’s safe to say that most buildings are built the old-fashioned way: a linear process where the owner shares ideas with the architect; the architect draws up the plans and sends to the contractor; the contractor builds the house.  Integrated design improves this process by encouraging collaboration of a team of designers and engineers early on.

During the process of planning the symposium in Chicago, I started to think that while integrated design is definitely a step in the right direction, there are many important aspects of society’s relationship to the built environment that are still ignored.  A building’s design, location and transportation options impact our behavior, health, environment, and finances. 

Questions started swirling around in my head…What can our social scientists teach us about the characteristics of healthy communities and how does this translate into how we design and set up our environments?  How do we create options to allow all residents to be mobile?  What physical elements can we change to positively impact our environment and the economic development of our cities?  I’m sure there are many other areas which haven’t even been explored.

Many of our speakers, who are on the leading edge of developing green buildings and livable communities, are already thinking of answers to these questions.  How do we get everyone else on board?  Regarding “integrated design,” I think we should expand the process to include the knowledge of urban planners, social scientists, community members, and those who can help create buildings that will improve the social, economic and environmental status of the impacted communities—also known as the triple bottom line.

Next time we think about developing a building, road, or community, wouldn’t it be great to integrate the health and well-being of the potential users as well as building system functionality?

About the Author: Chris Choi is a Community Planner in U.S. EPA’s Region 5 Office in Chicago.  He is a part of a Leadership Team for EPA’s National Green Building Workgroup and works on community redevelopment and land revitalization projects.  When not at work, you can find him on his bike or eating his way through the city’s many neighborhoods.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Greening EPA's Seattle Office

A green roof has been installed on our downtown Seattle office building

A green roof has been installed on our downtown Seattle office building

By Bruce Duncan

The Region 10 Science Steering Council recently hosted our first “Science Café” to discuss how our Seattle office building is working toward LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification as we undergo a major remodel. LEED is a third party certification program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council that focuses on the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.

I moderated the meeting and want to share some of the discussion. The first presentation focused on the building’s infrastructure (its green roof, pipes, and pumps) and participation in a private/public group committed to significantly reducing energy consumption by 2030.

Next, was a detailed look at the upcoming remodel of EPA space in the building and how we might get to a LEED “Platinum” rating. Presenters showed how the remodel is a unique opportunity to capture environmental benefits, energy efficiencies and cost savings. EPA is pursuing projects in:

  • sustainable site selection
  • water efficiencies
  • energy and atmosphere
  • materials and resources
  • indoor environmental quality
  • innovation and design process
  • regional priorities that further sustainability.

Each project generates points toward the LEED rating.

Our last discussion centered on what we can do in our individual spaces to be sustainable by recycling and reducing our use of resources.

Interesting information to me from the Q&A sessions included:

  • What is the cost to building management to register for LEED certification?

Approximately $10,000.

  • How is the return on investment working out for the building upgrade to LEED?

The payback horizon is reasonable for those components that do have a quantifiable return on investment. As we move forward, we would be comfortable with a 5 year payback horizon.

  • What are we doing to improve our office space that does not count toward LEED rating?

One example is the computer server room, which will be located to take advantage of cool outside air near windows.

What I liked most about our Science Cafe was seeing the linkage from my own office space and habits, to EPA’s space, to our building overall and how it sits within a self-led management community committed to sustainability.

Read more about EPA’s efforts to “green” our facilities.

About the author: Bruce Duncan is an Ecologist supporting risk assessments our Region 10 Office of Environmental Assessment. He is a member of the Region 10 Science Steering Council and has a long-standing interest in sustainability. Bruce also “walks the talk,” having installed solar panels on his Pacific Northwest home.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Insulation is Cool – Literally!

I’ve written a few times over the 18 months about our home renovation and how we went as green as we could afford. The last time, I was sitting in my dining room during our crazy-snowy winter.

Almost six months later, we’ve just gone through one of the worst heat waves I can remember. And that led to a massive thunderstorm cell that did quite a bit of damage to the DC area. It hit us about 3:30 on Sunday. We were sort of on the southern edge of it, but looking to the north was impressive and ominous.

Just before the skies opened, our power went out. Not that big a deal at the time – we just sat on the porch and watched the storm roar along. But when it didn’t come back on, I started worrying about our fridge and our AC. I get hot very easily.

4158_1157385457836_13237331As the hours wore on, though, I was again reminded of the benefits of our approach to insulation. Since we had the walls off while renovating, we blew in foam to air seal the house, then put fiberglass on top. We also put in double-paned windows with special coatings to reduce direct heating from the sun (I really appreciated the info I got on the Energy Star Web site about all of this). Our porch also keeps the sun off the ground floor windows in the front.

The result? The house doesn’t heat up or cool down very quickly. So although we had no AC during high temperatures, we were pretty comfortable inside. As for the fridge, we just kept the door shut (unlike during Hurricane Isabel, when we ran a very long extension cord across the street to our neighbors’ outdoor outlet).

Have you made any green building choices that later made themselves felt?

If you’re thinking about renovating, check out EPA’s info on green building!

About the author: Jeffrey Levy is EPA’s Director of Web Communications.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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What Life is Like Working in a Green Building?

image of greenery with cityscape in the backgroundWhile this photo may appear to be that of a lush meadow in the foreground of a big city, it is actually a vegetated rooftop on a 9-story building in downtown Denver. When EPA Region 8’s office moved to a new “green” office building in Lower Downtown Denver, I did not know what to expect. I had never worked in a green building before. I really did not think it would be that different from a regular building. Was I wrong… Not only was the building very beautiful, it was the most comfortable building I have ever been in. From the lighting to the indoor air quality, I knew we were in a top quality and healthy working environment.

Our building is environmentally friendly and provides daily opportunities for us to practice stewardship. Some features of our building that help us decrease our impact include:

  • Extensive use of daylight to reduce need for artificial light
  • A vegetated green roof to control storm water and decrease urban heat island effect
  • Waterless urinals and low-flow plumbing fixtures to decrease water use
  • High recycled content materials throughout the building
  • Proximity to public transit

However, it is not enough to simply build a green building; a big part of the equation is how the building is operated and the behavior of the occupants. Region 8’s Environmental Management System helps us improve our performance by quantifying and managing the impacts of our operations (e.g., electricity and water use, waste generation and transportation) and taking actions to reduce those impacts.

The green design, construction, operation and maintenance of 1595 Wynkoop, combined with close attention to our collective actions, help EPA in our efforts to practice what we preach.

Working in a green building is the only way to work in my mind. I have more energy throughout the day which I attribute to the environmentally healthy aspects of our building. I have the pleasure of knowing my work day has also been less of an impact to the environment. You can find out more, hear an audio tour and see lots of pictures of our green building at: http://www.epa.gov/region8/building/index.html

About the author: Wendy Dew has been with EPA for 11 years and is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Going Green Can Be Easy and Even Put Some Green Back in Your Wallet!

image of graphic on Green Building WebsiteThis past year while on special assignment to assist the EPA Green Building Program, I had the opportunity to create the EPA Green Homes website.  This website provides pages of useful, practical information and advice for the homeowner or apartment dweller to live a greener, more energy efficient life at home.

While I was developing the website, my wife and I decided to implement as many of the recommendations as possible to see if we could live greener, and after six months the results are in!

  • We are using 35% less electricity,
  • We are using a bit less water,
  • We are recycling 75% of all our household waste,
  • Most storm water runoff stays on our property during each rainfall,
  • We are gradually eliminating our ½ acre of lawn (and all the work that goes with it) and turning it into a garden of native plants by re-naturalizing our yard.
  • We purchased 100% Green Power (renewable electricity) from Dominion Power through their new program.
  • And, we’ve done all this with minimal expense and are saving almost $550 a year on energy bills!

Our energy audit indicated that our 10 inches (R-25) of fiberglass insulation in the attic is far below Energy Star’s currently recommended insulation depth (R49-R60) for the Northern Virginia.  So we hired a contractor to blow in another 12 inches of fiberglass insulation to give us a total of about R-55.  The house already feels more comfortable and it will be fun to see how much we save on our natural gas heating bill.  On top of this, the Federal and Virginia State governments want to give us 50% off the cost of the insulation in tax credits and rebates!!!

So how can you lose?  Going Green really can pay off!

I encourage you to visit the website and challenge yourself to do as much as you can to go green.

EPA’s new Green Homes website is at- www.epa.gov/greenhomes

About the author: Bill Swietlik has worked in EPA’s Office of Water in Washington DC since 1988.  For the past year Bill was on a special assignment to the EPA Green Building Program creating a Green Homes website.  In this blog he shares his experience of greening his home.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

What Life is Like Working in a Green Building?

While this photo may appear to be that of a lush meadow in the foreground of a big city, it is actually a vegetated rooftop on a 9-story building in downtown Denver. When EPA Region 8’s office moved to a new “green” office building in Lower Downtown Denver, I did not know what to expect. I had never worked in a green building before. I really did not think it would be that different from a regular building. Was I wrong… Not only was the building very beautiful, it was the most comfortable building I have ever been in. From the lighting to the indoor air quality, I knew we were in a top quality and healthy working environment.

Our building is environmentally friendly and provides daily opportunities for us to practice environmental stewardship. Some features of 1595 Wynkoop Street our building that help us decrease our environmental impact include:

  • Extensive use of daylight to reduce need for artificial light
  • A vegetated green roof to control storm water and decrease urban heat island effect
  • Waterless urinals and low-flow plumbing fixtures to decrease water use
  • High recycled content materials throughout the building help preserve resources
  • A daytime cleaning crew that uses less toxic cleaning products and allows our building to shut down at time???
  • Proximity to public transit reduces the impact of employee’s commute
  • Redeveloping a site that was an eyesore and underutilized???

But however, it is not enough to simply build a green building; a big part of the equation is how the building is operated and the behavior of the occupants. Region 8’s Environmental Management System helps us improve our environmental performance by quantifying and managing the impacts of our operations (e.g., electricity and water use, waste generation and transportation, to name a few) and taking actions to reduce those impacts.

As a newly constructed building, 1595 received a Gold rating in the Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Now, Region 8 is working toward a Gold rating in LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED EBOM) to ensure that our building is performing to the standards it was designed to meet (though this was put on the back burner for a while so need to check with Kate).

The green design, construction, operation and maintenance of 1595 Wynkoop, combined with close attention to our collective actions, help EPA Region 8 EPA in our efforts to practice what we preach.

I feel very lucky to be able to work in a green building. We have a lovely green roof we can sit near and have our lunch or conduct a meeting. We have convenient recycling and bike storage. Our building sits right on the 16th Street mall which has a free shuttle we can ride to numerous public transportation options and great lunch spots!

I also enjoy seeing all the tour groups that come through our building. Almost 10,000 people have visited us since we opened. I especially love to see the kids viewing a green building for the very first time, teaching them how a plastic bottle gets recycled into fiber and then turned into products like carpet (??) then challenged to make their school as green as possible when they leave.

Working in a green building is the only way to work in my mind. I can see better with natural day lighting. I have clean air to breathe. I have more energy throughout the day which I attribute to the environmentally healthy aspects of our building. I have the pleasure of knowing my work day has also been less of an impact to the environment. You can find out more, hear an audio tour and see lots of pictures of our green building.

About the author: Wendy Dew has been with EPA for 11 years and is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Healthy Health Care Leader – Kaiser Permanente

One of my closest friends, Stephanie Davis, did pioneering work in the early days of green health care. As she battled cancer, we often laughed and cried about the unhealthy hospitals and medical practices she endured.

So I really appreciate Kaiser Permanente’s recognition that healthy communities and a healthy environment are critical to the health and wellness. Kaiser Permanente received an EPA Pacific Southwest Environmental Award for their green ways. Here are a few examples, Kaiser —

  • Recycled 100% (WOW –- 100%!) of the building materials generated during the demolition of two warehouses in San Leandro, California.
  • Opened a green medical center in Modesto, California, with solar panels, energy-conserving technology, permeable pavement, and safer materials.
  • Hosted 28 farmers markets at facilities in six states, delivered produce “farm boxes” to employees without close access to farmers markets, and served milk from cows not treated with artificial hormones.
  • Resold and recycled 74,000 pieces of electronic equipment and ensured that no hazardous e-waste was exported outside of the U.S.
  • Used 107,143 gallons of water per bed per year in California hospitals — 40% less than the average hospital water consumption nationally.
  • Telemonitored heart patients remotely to improve the quality of care and reduce car trips.

Kaiser Permanente has also worked on changing employee behavior. Their “Reduce Your Use” campaign that encouraged employees to reduce waste by providing tips on ways to be more environmentally responsible with specific participation goals. The campaign resulted in employee pledges that eliminated the use of over 240,000 sheets of paper and 20,000 disposable bags.

Kaiser is definitely leading the way on greening heath care. I wish Stephanie was able to see the great progress Kaiser has made to improve the health of the health care system. Do you have green health care ideas you’d like to share?

About the author: Timonie Hood has worked on EPA Region 9’s Resource Conservation Team promoting waste reduction, recycling, and green building for 10 years in EPA’s Pacific Southwest Office.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.