Renewable energy keeps sports fields green
Sometimes the best ideas begin with a simple trip to the bathroom.
“That’s how it all started. The work began with toilet paper,” says Allen Hershkowitz, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Natural Resources Defense Council and director of the NRDC Sports Project.
Hershkowitz focused on solid waste management, recycling, and the paper industry for NRDC before Jeffrey Lurie called in 2004 and asked for help in making his team and stadium sustainable. Lurie, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, had just opened Lincoln Financial Field, the team’s state-of-the-art stadium. He wanted to “green the team” and contacted Hershkowitz, who was known for his work in sustainable development.
“The first thing I asked him was ‘Where are you getting your toilet paper?’” Hershkowitz says. “They were getting their toilet paper from a place that was also an eagle habitat. They were having eagle habitat cut down so people could wipe their butts at Eagles stadium. That looked like a branding liability to me.”
And so the first battle in the sports greening movement was waged with a paper company about supplying recycled content and to stop producing toilet paper from trees.
Small Ideas Lead to Big Changes
There is no single initiative that will solve climate change. There is no technology that will fix everything with push of a button. Millions of poor decisions over the past 200 years have harmed the environment and it will take millions of more intelligent global-friendly decisions to change that course.
“It's not only that small changes lead to big results, but there is no one big thing we could do to deal with global warming,” Hershkowitz says. “That means carefully choosing what kind of paper you buy, what kind of food you serve, what kind of energy you use. Where are you getting your water? How are you managing your waste? What's the supply chain of your textiles?”
All those issues are in play right now with professional sports, which is a $450 billion industry. Sports brings people together and is ingrained in societies throughout the world – especially in the United States. If the sports industry has embraced renewable energy, recycling, and reducing its carbon footprint, then the majority of society may just follow their lead and adopt environmentally-friendly practices as the new standard operating procedure.
“Who do people trust? They don't trust the government,” Hershkowitz says. “They trust business. They certainly trust sports. Sports unites people and it’s a trusted network. Sports is now changing the culture of how Americans think about the environment.”
Stadiums Carbon Unloading
After getting the Eagles to switch to recycled toilet paper, Hershkowitz became the environmental advisor for Lincoln Financial Field and broadened the program to include carbon emissions, waste, water, and chemicals; and developed the first stadium greening initiative.
The Eagles installed 11,000 solar panels and 14 wind turbines to make Lincoln Financial Field the first professional stadium in the U.S. capable of generating all of its electricity onsite. The team purchases 14 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy credits annually and 100 percent of team operations are powered by clean energy generated on U.S. wind farms. Also, they converted all of their tissue paper products to 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper.
“It's a great model nationally, probably the best in the NFL, and of course what the 49ers are planning to do is going to exceed even that – so that's spectacular commitment,” Hershkowitz says.
In Santa Clara, Calif., the San Francisco 49ers’ new stadium is under construction and the team is planning for it to become the first professional football venue to open with LEED certification in 2014. Levi’s Stadium, which is scheduled to host Super Bowl L in 2016, is a $1.2 billion project that includes solar arrays and canopies that will produce 400 kilowatts. The stadium’s other green initiatives include public transit access, bicycle parking, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, and recycled materials.
“… the new Santa Clara Stadium [is] an economically and environmentally sustainable showcase for innovation,” said Jed York, CEO, San Francisco 49ers, in a released statement.
“This really is a golden age of energy efficiency at stadiums and arenas in the country,” Hershkowitz says. “This is really is a green building initiative, except that when a big commercial building goes green, you don't get the kind of visibility and messaging that you do when Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park goes green.”
The Boys of Summer
Is there anything better than Fenway Park, bathed in late summer sun, and bustling with energy in the midst of another Pennant race? The 101-year-old ballpark, nestled in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood of Boston, which has seen its share of renovations, has recently incorporated green initiatives as well. The Red Sox installed 28 solar panels across the roof of the dugout, which will supply 37 percent of the energy needed to heat the stadium’s water. The park also reduced water usage by 30 percent by installing water-efficient fixtures.
In 2005, Hershkowitz met with Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig about greening the game. Selig embraced the idea, making the NRDC and MLB the first league-wide greening initiative collaboration. After that, NBA and NHL commissioners David Stern and Gary Bettman, respectively, started working with the NRDC.
“We are seeing existing stadiums and arenas getting energy efficiency audits done and then retrofitting HVAC systems, installing onsite renewable energy sources, and reducing waste,” Hershkowitz says. “These stadiums and arenas are iconic cultural institutions.”
Recently Billy Jean King reached out and wanted the National Tennis Center and U.S. Open to go green. Eventually the NRDC developed comprehensive greening programs for the professional leagues, many pro teams, college stadiums, and signature events such as the World Series, the MLB All-Star game, WTA’s Family Circle Cup, and the NBA Playoffs.
“What does this mean culturally?” Hershkowitz says. “Over the last five to six years the embrace of environmental stewardship by sports has really helped send a signal to society, businesses, and energy companies, that this way of thinking is now a part of the culture. That's never happened before and this change is being instigated by the sports industry.”
Trafigura and Yara International explore clean ammonia usage
Reducing shipping emissions is a vital component of the fight against global climate change, yet Greenhouse Gas emissions from the global maritime sector are increasing - and at odds with the IMO's strategy to cut absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050.
How more than 70,000 ships can decrease their reliance on carbon-based sources is one of transport's most pressing decarbonisation challenges.
Yara and Trafigura intend to collaborate on initiatives that will establish themselves in the clean ammonia value chain. Under the MoU announced today, Trafigura and Yara intend to work together in the following areas:
- The supply of clean ammonia by Yara to Trafigura Group companies
- Exploration of joint R&D initiatives for clean ammonia application as a marine fuel
- Development of new clean ammonia assets including marine fuel infrastructure and market opportunities
Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, President of Yara Clean Ammonia, said the agreement is a good example of cross-industry collaboration to develop and promote zero-emission fuel in the form of clean ammonia for the shipping industry. "Building clean ammonia value chains is critical to facilitate the transition to zero emission fuels by enabling the hydrogen economy – not least within trade and distribution where both Yara and Trafigura have leading capabilities. Demand and supply of clean ammonia need to be developed in tandem," he said.
There is a growing consensus that hydrogen-based fuels will ultimately be the shipping fuels of the future, but clear and comprehensive regulation is essential, according to Jose Maria Larocca, Executive Director and Co-Head of Oil Trading for Trafigura.
Ammonia has a number of properties that require "further investigation," according to Wartsila. "It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process," it notes.
Trafigura has co-sponsored the R&D of MAN Energy Solutions’ ammonia-fuelled engine for maritime vessels, has performed in-depth studies of transport fuels with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and has published a white paper on the need for a global carbon levy for shipping fuels to be introduced by International Maritime Organization.
Oslo-based Yara produces roughly 8.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually and employs a fleet of 11 ammonia carriers, including 5 fully owned ships, and owns 18 marine ammonia terminals with 580 kt of storage capacity – enabling it to produce and deliver ammonia across the globe.
It recently established a new clean ammonia unit to capture growth opportunities in emission-free fuel for shipping and power, carbon-free fertilizer and ammonia for industrial applications.