By Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe
With football season starting back up and baseball playoffs around the corner, this is one of my favorite times of the year – and I know many Americans share my excitement.
I am a sports enthusiast. But I am also an environmentalist. Today more than ever, these two passions of mine seem to go hand-in-hand. For the past few years, a number of sports teams, venues and leagues have come forward and expressed interest in greener, cost-saving ways of doing business. These improvements will ensure that, as each pitch is thrown, each goal is scored and each car completes another lap on the racetrack, we’re doing more to conserve resources, clean up our environment and protect the health of our communities.
Yesterday I joined representatives from the Green Sports Alliance, an organization that represents over 100 teams and venues from 13 different leagues, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the Alliance’s second annual Summit in Seattle, WA.
The agreement we signed seeks to build upon our current outreach and sustainability efforts, and it strengthens the partnerships we have with the Alliance so our work can be as far-reaching as possible. It will help ensure that America’s sports teams and venues have the tracking and reporting tools and technical expertise they need to address environmental challenges like waste management, water conservation and pollution. It will also help with the effort to make sports venues’ energy use more efficient – specifically through EPA’s Energy Star program. This year our annual Energy Star National Building Competition has attracted five new sports venues. That’s good news for teams, for the environment and for local communities: Last year’s competition resulted in $5.2 million of utility bill savings and prevented nearly 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere – about the same amount of emissions that come from more than 3,600 homes each year.
Teams, stadiums, and venues across the country are already taking significant steps to increase sustainability and protect our environment. The Philadelphia Eagles are preparing for on-site wind and solar generation at Lincoln Financial Field. The National Hockey League became the first league to join EPA’s Green Power Partnership, offsetting 100 percent of its post-season electricity consumption through its green power commitments. These are just two of dozens of examples of how the sports industry has been discovering cost-effective ways to reduce their environmental footprint and engage fans in bringing about a cleaner, healthier future for our communities.
The best news about all of this work is that it has the potential to reach far beyond the stadiums, the fields and the courts. From little league baseball to the majors, from Pop Warner football to the NFL, Americans share a great love for sports. Our favorite teams are not only important to us; they also have the ability to be influential in raising awareness among their fans and setting positive examples when it comes to sustainability.
For all of these reasons, I’m very proud of EPA’s work with the Green Sports Alliance, and I look forward to seeing where our partnership will take us in seasons to come.
About the author: Bob Perciasepe is the Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.