Science Wednesday: Fall Classics

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Aaron Ferster

The big yellow school buses have begun rolling into the neighborhood every morning again. The heat waves of the summer have relinquished. And I’ve noticed a leaf or two starting to fade. This can only mean one thing: it’s time for pennant races to get going!

As a former resident of the Bronx—and a life-long Yankee fan—I have spent more Septembers than I care to admit fixated on the epic struggle for baseball’s biggest prize: beating the Red Sox. (Okay, it’s pretty thrilling watching N.Y. win the World Series, too.)

But now that I’ve lived in the DC area as long as I’ve lived in New York, I have to admit that the baseball universe is larger than just two teams. I’ve even started to learn about my adopted hometown’s Washington Nationals.

Although I don’t think I’ll need to worry about choosing between N.Y. and D.C. in the Series anytime soon, I now know one area where the Nationals are already contending: the rain delay.

Earlier this season, a colleague invited me to tag along with a number of other EPA employees for a lunch-hour tour of Nationals Park. The team was eager to tout the numerous environmentally- sustainable, “green architecture” features of their new stadium.

According to their web site, “Nationals Park is the nation’s first major professional stadium to become LEED Silver Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.” To start, the ballpark is easily accessible to public transportation, and offers bicycles valet parking. A green roof—much like one EPA scientists are studying—sits atop a concession and restroom area.

I was particularly impressed with steps the team has taken to filter ground and stormwater runoff, another area of great interest to EPA researchers. An intricate system separates water used to clean the stadium from rainwater runoff, filtering both before any is released into the sanitary or stormwater drains. The end result is that the entire stadium acts like a giant rain garden (another EPA research subject) that helps protect the nearby Anacostia River. They even take pains to keep discarded peanut shells from entering the wastewater flow!

While the Nationals might not have the line up of the big budget teams up North, they sure do impress with their investment to environmental sustainability. Even this Yankee fan is impressed.

About the author: Aaron Ferster is the managing editor of Science Wednesday, and a frequent contributor.

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