Experiencing America's favorite past time at a major league venue is an unforgettable experience: the food, the camaraderie, the thrill of watching your team pull out a victory at the bottom of the ninth inning. One major league ballpark is striving to make the experience even better by becoming the "greenest" ballpark in the country. With a firm environmental policy set in place and numerous green upgrades, the San Francisco Giants AT&T Park can claim their park is the best place to enjoy the game of baseball. At the Giants’ ballpark, America's favorite past time could also be its greenest.
AT&T Park first opened in 2000 in the heart of San Francisco, with views of the Bay Bridge and the nearby marina. Since the park's opening season, the operations team has continuously increased their energy to creating a healthy, environmentally friendly venue. This has been achieved by putting in place important green initiatives, retrofitting the park facilities with improved lighting and equipment, and promoting sustainability in all areas of park operation. While fans come to the stadium to see good baseball, they are also taking part in a sports revolution that has lasting impact on their own health, on the City of San Francisco and on the environment.
Eating from the concession stand is a must for many park visitors who want to experience the entire Major League Baseball experience. One of the ballpark’s best green features is the Gilroy Garlic fries sustainable concession stand. The improvements made to the park's most popular food stand include replacing the fryers with models that use 32% less gas, using a cooler that saves 35% more energy than regular coolers, replacing the lights and signs for more efficiency, and using only recyclable or compostable consumables. Even the paint used to repaint the stand is green!
Having an environmentally friendly concession stand is an important improvement, but in order to claim their title as greenest ballpark in America and achieve LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the operations team didn't stop there. From the playing field to the front office, major green improvements were made. Fans may breathe easier knowing that the facility is 100% smoke free. They can also do their part by disposing all their trash in one of the park's trash bins, green compost bins or blue recycling bins. If fans are unsure where to put their trash, the park has the Green Team, employees tasked with helping visitors with recycling or composting their trash. The impact of just these changes is immense: more than 40% of the ballpark's waste has been diverted from landfills.
Major League Baseball parks are often known for their bright green playing fields. That green often comes with a cost: increased water usage, coupled with the water demands in the facility as a whole. The operations team at AT&T Park reduced water usage by changing the composition of the playing field base to a mixture with more clay, plus they implemented an irrigation system that uses 33-50% less water. Visitors to the park might also take notice of the 590 solar panels on park buildings. AT&T Park was the first MLB park to install solar panels, a project that was completed in 2007. While the panels don’t generate power for the park itself, they do generate green energy for power company customers within the city and county of San Francisco. This one change has powered over 5,200 homes and offset 360,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions since 2007.
Fans at a major league baseball game may come to watch their favorite team win, share an experience with family and friends, or even just take in the sights and sounds that only exist within a major league ballpark. When fans of the San Francisco Giants arrive at AT&T Park to watch their team take the field, they are also part of a unique effort to prove that large venues can have a small environmental footprint. The Giants’ ballpark has forged a path for all MLB parks and sporting venues to follow, to help ensure that future generations have the chance to experience the thrill of victory.