The Ups & Downs Of The Green Sports World

Like the New York Jets, who this week set an NFL record by alternating wins and losses for a 10th consecutive game (win-lose-win-lose, etc.) (hopefully this trend continues for one more game as it’s their “win” week), the Green Sports World had an up-down (I think) week.

UP:  The Cleveland Browns Unveil A New Food Waste-To-Energy System

While the Cleveland Browns’ on-field performance has been mediocre-to-putrid since they re-entered the league in 1999 (the original Browns left for Baltimore in 1995; the new Browns have made the playoffs once in 14 seasons and will likely not see post-season play this year), they are among the league leaders off the field in terms of greening.

Dawg Pound GiantBomb.com

Buck Up, Dawg Pound Fans!  Your Cleveland Browns Are A Leader In Greening The NFL Via Their Innovative Food Waste-To-Energy System (Photo Credit: GiantBomb)

In a story in TriplePundit.com, Tina Casey profiles the Browns innovative new food waste-to-energy system, called Grind2Energy.  The system, created and operated by InSinkErator, is the first of its kind at NFL stadiums.  Launching at the Browns-Steelers game this Sunday, Grind2Energy “reclaims food scraps for conversion into renewable methane gas, rather than sending it to a landfill where it would decompose and add methane (a potent greenhouse gas) to the atmosphere.”

Grind2 Rewmag.com

InSinkErator’s Grind2Energy Food Waste Grinder Will Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Food Waste At Cleveland Browns Games (Photo Credit: RewMag.com)

The Grind2Energy process, which Ms. Casey’s article details, results in a big win for the environment by essentially shifting the by-products from food waste from decomposed methane (which is what happens now when food waste is sent to a landfill) to burned methane gas.  That doesn’t sound like a win, does it?  Burning methane gas can’t be a good thing?  Things aren’t always as they seem:

THIS IS A BIG WIN–and it is a system that other NFL teams will likely model in 2014 and beyond.  So, Browns fans, I know it’s small consolation when your team is 4-6, but you should be proud of Grind2Energy.  Plus they’re only a game out of a Wild Card spot.

DOWN (I think):  The Atlanta Braves Move To The Suburbs

Last week, the Atlanta Braves announced they will be moving from 17 year-old Turner Field, located just south of downtown Atlanta, to a new stadium in suburban Cobb County.  The new ballpark, 15 miles northwest of “The Ted”, is scheduled to open in 2017.

Cobb County Marietta.com

Aerial View Of The Footprint of the New Braves Stadium and Retail/Entertainment/Hotel Development in Cobb County, GA.  (Photo Credit: Marietta.com)

My initial reaction was “what’s up with Atlanta sports teams leaving flying the coop from relatively new stadiums?”  After all, the NFL Falcons will leave their downtown  home, the Georgia Dome, after only 25 years for what looks like a futuristic stadium, also downtown.

New Falcons Stadium

Artist’s Rendering, New Atlanta Falcons Stadium.  I Hope It’s As Green As It Is Cool-Looking (Photo Credit: Atlanta Falcons)

Next, my thoughts went to the greenness of the proposed ballpark and, at first glance, it doesn’t seem green at all.

  • The new stadium will not be located near MARTA, the Atlanta light rail system.  This means that virtually all fans will be driving to the new stadium.  Currently, fans can take MARTA to Turner Field, although the nearest station is about a mile away.  Free shuttle bus service takes fans from MARTA to the ballpark but many walk.  That ain’t gonna happen in Cobb County.
  • Traffic, admittedly bad for games at Turner Field (it’s bad pretty much everywhere in Atlanta), is expected to be awful in Cobb County.  The stadium will likely be at the intersection of I-75 and I-285, already one of the most congested in the Atlanta area.
  • Baseball is only part of the picture.  The Braves, per their website, will “develop the remaining parcels surrounding the venue, crafting a destination featuring retail, entertainment and hotel options.”  More cars, more sprawl, more emissions.
  • While it’s still early days, it’s curious that the Braves new ballpark website doesn’t mention sustainability at all.  Every new ballpark website I’ve seen goes out of its way to talk up how green they are.  Not the Braves.  At least they’re not greenwashing.  Yet.

While I think the Braves’  move to the suburbs is far from green, the truth is we don’t know the full story:

  • Transportation-Based Carbon Emissions: The team says one reason for the move to Cobb is that it’s closer to the epicenter of its mainly suburban fan base.  If this is true, then emissions from cars will be lower with fewer miles being driven.  But, the traffic will likely be worse, thus increasing emissions.  And those who now take MARTA will have to drive, adding even more to emissions.  Hopefully a detailed analysis will be done to determine the net effect on carbon emissions of the move.
  • Recycling of Turner Field:  Will any of the steel, bricks and/or other materials that are part of Turner Field be used to build the new ballpark? Turner Field will be torn down.
  • What kind of bus service will be used to get fans to the new ballpark and how many fans will use it?
  • Will the new ballpark be LEED certified?

GSB will reach out to the Braves to get their side of the sustainability (or lack thereof) story.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “The Ups & Downs Of The Green Sports World

  1. I wonder how expensive it would be to have one of those Grind3Energy units in every municipality? Here in Australia the shire in which I live collects food and green waste for compost but I have no idea what happens to that compost afterwards. Might make more sense to convert it to energy instead. Grats to the Browns for forward thinking. 🙂

  2. G’day Acflory! Thanks for writing from Australia. Perhaps you could ask your local government what they do with their compost and, if they don’t use an InSinkErator-style food grinder to help make Methane-based fuel, suggest that they do so. If you do that, please report back to GSB and let us know what happens. Also I wonder if some AFL teams could follow the Browns lead.

  3. Something tells me GREEN considerations weren’t even in the math when some of these decisions were made. Too bad, in the 21st Century, but still part of reality.

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