Green-Sports News and Notes: Waste Heat Powers US Stadia


We’ve given a great deal of attention in the 2+ year existence of GreenSportsBlog to on-site renewable energy generation (i.e. solar and wind at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia) and energy efficiency efforts underway at stadia and arenas around the world. One thing we have yet to delve into is how “waste heat” is being captured and transformed into energy to power stadia. Well, that changes today in a GSB News and Notes column.

In “Waste Heat (Not Sweaty Bodies) Powering U.S. Sports Stadiums”, published on June 2 in Triplepundit.com, Allyn McAuley, a 2015 MBA candidate at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, took readers on a tour of 2 venues that are being/will be powered in part by the use of waste heat (capture of excess heat that is then used as energy):

  • University of Colorado, Boulder: It’s no surprise that CU is one of the leaders in the “waste heat” category, given the commitment to green-sports by the Athletic Department and by Dave Newport, Director of the CU Environmental Center. McAuley highlights how CU’s new recreation center, which is aiming for LEED Platinum status, features a closed-loop heating system that “utilizes waste heat from the ice rink to heat the swimming pool.” Projected savings are stunning: “70 percent reduction in energy use and $300,000 of savings per year.”

CU Closed Loop

Schematic depicting the University of Colorado’s “Closed Loop” building heat recovery system for its new Rec Center. (Credit: Triplepundit.com)


  • Target Field, Minneapolis: The home of the Minnesota Twins should not only be known for the surprisingly good results enjoyed by the home team early this season (picked by most experts to finish last in the AL Central, the Twinkies sit in 2nd place today). It should also gain recognition for its innovative program, in partnership with Covanta and the Hennepin County Resource Center (HERC) that transforms solid waste from the ballpark into electricity. McAuley shares how “Target Field provides the (Covanta) waste-to-energy facility with municipal solid waste (MSW) for fuel, and HERC in return provides heat to Target Field by generating steam from the incineration of the solid waste via NRG Energy Center’s downtown heating system.” Between 2011 and 2014, the Twins sent 2,092 tons of solid waste “to HERC to make energy.”

Bicycle commuting has been increasing in the U.S. in recent years. In New York City, thanks, in part to the advent of CitiBike, has seen, according to the U.S. Census, a doubling from 0.61% in 2009 to 1.21% in 2013. That’s great news for the fitness of Gotham residents and for carbon footprint reduction (although no hard data exist on the latter.)
However these numbers pale in comparison to bike commuting in Europe. David Thorpe, writing in the May 26th issue of Sustainable Cities Collectivereported that, according to a 2015 survey by the European Cyclists Federation, the Netherlands is the home of the bike commuter, with 36% of residents reporting that the bicycle is their primary mode of daily transportation. Denmark comes in 2nd with a 23% bike commuting rate, with Hungary right behind for 3rd place at 22%.
Danish bike commuters

Danes commute to and from work at the 2nd highest rate in Europe (23%, with the Netherlands leading the way at 36%) and they don’t let winter get in the way. (Photo credit: Denmark.dk)

One can look at the fact that the Dutch commute by bike at 30X the rate of New Yorkers as a negative; we at GSB look at that number and see a huge opportunity for growth of two-wheeled commuting in the Big Apple and elsewhere in the U.S.
Scott Jenkins, Chairman of the Green Sports Alliance and General Manager of the New Atlanta Stadium (future home of the NFL Falcons and a new MLS club), was interviewed recently by Stadia MagazineThe wide ranging discussion concluded with Jenkins previewing the themes that will dominate the Alliance’s annual summit, taking place in Chicago from June 29-July 1:
“We’re releasing a healthy food report that looks at food options that aren’t only healthier for guests but also for the planet. There will also be a green cleaning playbook and an LED lighting playbook. Post-summit we’ll be releasing a mascot report to raise awareness of endangered species. When you think about sports teams’ mascots, it’s amazing how many of those animals are endangered and whose habitat is disappearing, yet we pay no attention to the dire straits that those species are in. We’ve gotten some really good response from team ownerships, so we hope to launch a visible program by this fall and into the winter.”
GreenSportsBlog will be reporting from the summit daily so be sure to check in here for all the news from Chicago.
Please comment below!
Email us: lew@greensportsblog.com
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  1. Lew, would be great to have you do a blog post for our CEF EcoInnovator blog on some of the most notable trends and game-changing activities (figuratively and literally) you see in the sports and sustainability.
    Devon will follow up with guidelines and get it scheduled if you’re interested.
    Best, P.J.
    P.J. Simmons | Chair, Corporate Eco Forum | t: 917-740-0568 | LinkedIn | Twitter

  2. Hi P.J.–Thanks for the comment. Happy to talk about doing a guest blog post. LMK how to best proceed. Lew

  3. Hi Lew,
    Great to meet you at the GSA Summit. As discussed very briefly on the Soldier Field escalator, we would be delighted if you contributed to our EcoInnovator blog .
    Please find the EcoInnovator format guidelines below. The earliest opening we have to publish your post is Monday, 7/13, but also have an opening on 7/27. We request drafts one week prior to publication for possible editing. If you’re interested, please let us know which publication date you would prefer and we will be happy to reserve it.
    – *Length*: 500-1000 word essays/op-eds (example 1 , example 2 , example 3 ) – *Audience*: Thousands of senior business executives predominantly from large Fortune and Global 500 companies. As such, please develop and frame your piece with these executives in mind (i.e. *not* scholars, NGO leaders, policymakers, or the general public). – *Topic*: Your piece can be descriptive or opinion-based. It may focus on advice, insights or lessons learned relating to notable activities, initiatives, or trends that somehow provide a window into emerging best practice, or “next practice” founding CEF advisor CK Prahalad called it. Here are some possible areas of focus: – Sustainability-related trends that could reshape the business landscape – Best practices for companies in a given aspect of sustainability – Description of a cutting-edge corporate initiative or partnership designed to address emerging sustainability needs – Lessons learned from attempts to pursue a novel sustainability strategy or tactic – How your company is innovating to respond to tomorrow’s customer needs – *Format*: It’s up to you. Given the busy high-level executive audience you’re writing for, we strongly recommend dividing long paragraphs or text into highly readable/skimmable chunks (bullet points, boxes, charts, etc all accepted and indeed *encouraged*). You may embed links to any websites or PDFs. – *Author Photo**:* Please submit a hi-res image of yourself, along with any other hi-res images you would like to embed in the article. The recommended size is at least 620×300.
    All the best, Devon
    On Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 3:55 PM, P.J. Simmons wrote:
    > Lew, would be great to have you do a blog post for our CEF EcoInnovator > blog on some of the most notable trends and game-changing activities > (figuratively and literally) you see in the sports and sustainability. > > Devon will follow up with guidelines and get it scheduled if you’re > interested. > > Best, P.J. > > > > > P.J. Simmons | Chair, Corporate Eco Forum | t: 917-740-0568 | LinkedIn > | Twitter > > >

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