This past weekend, I had the opportunity to take a backstage tour of the Washington Nationals baseball stadium. I was thrilled as I have enjoyed watching several games since the stadium opened in 2008. And last year, I wrote a blog post about the stadium, its green credentials and my pleasant surprise at the availability of healthier food choices.
The tour was coordinated by the leadership of the Sustainable Business Network of Washington (SBNOW), a DC-based organization that works with companies to help them integrate environmental and social responsibility principles into their operations. The fact that Nationals Park is the nation’s first major professional stadium to become LEED Silver Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council was, obviously, of great interest to SBNOW’s membership.
The park has several features that enabled it to achieve LEED status. For example, during its construction only 17 percent of the construction waste ended up in the landfill. All of the building materials contain at least 10 percent recycled content (the steel was an impressive 90 percent). Plus, many of the building materials used on the project were produced locally.
A portion of the roof is planted with sedum, which helps absorb rainwater, provide insulation, and offer a natural habitat for wildlife. The remaining roof areas are white to help deflect heat, which reduces air conditioning costs.
Throughout the ballpark, they use vegetable-based compostable cups rather than plastic or styrofoam. The bathrooms are equipped with low-flow toilets, the rooms are decorated with low-VOC paints and carpet. Air chillers are used, saving, we were told, 10 million gallons of water per year. And energy-saving light fixtures use 21 percent less electricity.
The park’s close proximity to the Metro’s Green Line, the fact that 7 bus lines service the stadium, and the availability of a water taxi from Alexandria, VA and the Georgetown area of DC, make it easy for fans to take public transportation. They also offer a free bike valet service and ample bike self-parking.
Having Silver status means that you have the minimum number of systems in place to qualify for LEED certification (the next levels are Gold and Platinum). This means there is more they can do to run a truly sustainable business. However, the fact that this is the first stadium to integrate green building practices is definitely to be commended.
If you are interested in a tour, they offer public tours. Or, for $300, you can arrange a private tour. The proceeds go to the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, whose mission is to create “community partnerships that improve the lives of children and families across the Washington Capital Region.”