Two Bronx icons, the New York Yankees and Bronx Zoo, recently crossed the intersection of Green & Sports. The Bronx Bombers expressed a strong interest in “leading the league in composting and sustainability.” And, a couple of miles north and east of Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Zoo hosted Run For The Wild (RFTW) on Saturday, a 5K run that raised funds to help preserve one of the most athletic of all animals, the African Forest Elephant. (Editor’s Note: I work in a consulting capacity for the Bronx Zoo’s parent entity, the Wildlife Conservation Society.)
The New York Yankees, inarguably, in this reporter’s opinion, are the pre-eminent American sports franchise: 27 World Championships. Best uniforms in sports. Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jeter. But, in terms of sustainability? Maybe not so much. Per a July 2013 GSB post, the new Yankee Stadium, opened to much fanfare in 2009, but sustainability did not appear to factor much in its design and construction. Nothing was written about the ballpark’s greenness and the Yankees were quiet on the subject. Most sports teams make a big deal about the green aspects of their new palaces so our read was that the silence meant green took a back seat. We are happy to be proven wrong, so any information supporting the greenness of Yankee Stadium’s design and construction is welcome.
That said, GSB was happy to see, in a recent NRDC blog post by Eric Goldstein, that the Yankees are committing to be “major league leaders in environmental sustainability” in terms of the ballpark’s operations. The post highlights the work Doug Behar, VP of Stadium Operations, is doing to ensure the Big Ball Orchard In The South Bronx runs as green-ly as possible, including buying 100% of its electricity from wind farms and using high efficiency sports lighting. So, if the construction of Yankee Stadium was a green loss, the operations seem like a win. Not bad.
Compost and recycling bins at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are making a concerted effort to green their operations (Photo Credit: Serious Eats)
While it will surprise no one to see the Yankees in a GSB post, the Bronx Zoo’s inclusion could be an optical illusion to a lot of people. But the largest of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 5 New York City parks (Central Park Zoo, New York Aquarium, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo are the other 4) certainly earned it with Run For The Wild (RFTW).
On the sports side, over 5,000 runners took part in two races; the first a 5K for serious runners; the second a more leisurely run-walk for recreational runners and families. Turning to the green/sustainability side, funds were raised in support of 96 Elephants, the initiative led by the Clinton Global Initiative with the support of the Wildlife Conservation Society, to protect the African Forest Elephant from extinction (96 are killed every day in Africa, hence the organization’s name). And many of Saturday’s 20,000 visitors experienced the Greening of The Bronx Zoo–even if they didn’t know it:
- A cogeneration plant produces a vast majority of the zoo’s electricity and its “waste heat” heats a portion of the park.
- The Bronx Zoo’s Center for Global Conservation and the Madagascar exhibit are both LEED-Gold certified
- Animal waste is composted and made available to community gardens.
Some of the 5,000+ runners at the Bronx Zoo’s Run For The Wild, stretching before their 5K run. Funds were raised to support the fight to save the African Forest Elephant from extinction. (Photo Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society)
Corporate sponsors with a green hue took notice, including the very cool BMW’s all-electric i3, which will be introduced to the US market within a month.
Runners check out BMW’s all-electric i3 afar Saturday’s Run For The Wild at the Bronx Zoo. (Photo Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society)
My bet is that several i3’s will be charging in the Bronx Zoo parking lot at the 2015 Run For The Wild while their owners are running the race.
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