The US Open, the two week tennis celebration at the National Tennis Center in Queens, got underway yesterday. The US Tennis Association (USTA) has made major strides since 2008 in terms of greening American tennis’ biggest and most prestigious event. And Monday another big, green stride was taken as the beautiful new Grandstand Stadium received LEED certification.
The completion of the retractable Teflon roof to cover the biggest stage in tennis, 23,700 seat capacity Arthur Ashe Stadium, is the centerpiece of a massive, multi-year transformation of the USTA’s National Tennis Center (NTC) campus, home of the US Open in Queens, NY. No longer will players and fans have to remain until the wee hours for the completion of matches and no longer will the Men’s Final be postponed to a Monday afternoon due to rainouts as the roof can close in less than six minutes.
That transformation also will include, in time for the 2018 tournament, an upgraded Louis Armstrong Stadium, the campus’ 2nd largest facility: There will be a retractable roof and seating capacity will increase from the current 10,000 to a planned 15,000.
And, the new Grandstand, third largest stadium at the NTC with a capacity of 8,000, saw its first tournament action yesterday. It also became the first US Open stadium with LEED certification, earning that designation from the US Green Building Council. According to Bina Indelicato, CEO of EcoEvolutions, LLC and sustainability consultant to the USTA, the Grandstand earned LEED status as a result of “implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions aimed at achieving high performance in sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.”
The 8,000 seat Grandstand stadium at the National Tennis Center (NTC) in Queens. It opened for play Monday as the first LEED Certified stadium at the NTC. (Photo credit: Lewis Blaustein)
Green highlights of the new Grandstand include:
- Diversion of more than 90% of the waste from the landfill.
- LED lighting which helps lead to an energy use reduction of 15% vs. standard buildings.
- An advanced rainwater treatment system which removes contaminants before rainwater is discharged into the environment.
- 40% reduction in water usage as compared to standard buildings.
- The spectacular white roof reflects heat to keep the stadium cooler.
- Low-emitting paints and finishes were used in the stadium’s construction which reduced the emission of pollutants.
The newly-roofed Ashe Stadium did not go for LEED certification—it would have had to have sought LEED for Existing Building status, not for New Construction, which is a very different certification animal. It is particularly challenging for a venue that only operates two weeks per year. The new Louis Armstrong Stadium will seek LEED New Construction certification.
GREEN NEWS AT 2016 US OPEN DOES NOT END WITH THE GRANDSTAND
“The tournament will offset the carbon emissions generated by the over 850 players that come to the event,” said Indelicato. “Additionally, the [USTA] will continue to offset the carbon emissions generated from the over 9,000 employees who come on site to work the event as well as from the fuel consumed to run the 2016 US Open.” Champion Energy Services, the US Open’s energy provider, will supply Green-e certified renewable energy certificates (RECs) to match the electricity consumed during the 2016 US Open. And, waste diversion will not only be the province of the new Grandstand; the entire tournament will see more than 850 tons of waste diverted from the landfill; helping to save over 1,000 tons of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the atmosphere.
Compost bin (foreground) and recycling bin (blue band in the rear) along the plaza outside Louis Armstrong Stadium at the National Tennis Center. These are two of many such bins dotting the NTC complex that demonstrate the USTA’s commitment to sustainability to the 700,000 fans projected to attend the 2016 US Open. (Photo credit: Lewis Blaustein)
WILL THE GREEN US OPEN STORY BREAK THROUGH?
The answer here is likely to be a mixed bag.
On the one hand, it will be virtually impossible for any of the 700,000+ fans expected to descend upon the NTC during this fortnight to miss the signs of greening happening on campus. From plentiful recycling and composting bins to clearly marked compostable plastic cups, cutlery and flatware to the signs at the new Grandstand heralding the stadium’s LED lights, attendees will know they are at a greening event. I saw all of the above while attending Sunday’s US Open practice session.
Sign at the new Grandstand that lets fans know that the stadium’s LED lighting system will help the USTA save 15% on energy usage. (Photo credit: Bina Indelicato)
On the other hand, will the roughly 24 million people# who tune in to the tournament in the US on TV via ESPN and ESPN2 learn about any of the greening initiatives? I doubt it, unless the USTA airs Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) touting the great greening work they are doing. It says here that the USTA should create and run such PSA’s, not only because they’re doing the right thing, but because it would benefit the USTA:
- The USTA is trying to grow interest in tennis among younger audiences; younger audiences care about the environment and climate change much more so than do older cohorts.
- Engaging younger audiences with a green message could appeal to potential new US Open sponsors/advertisers. Corporations with strong greening track records could find the US Open as an attractive new sponsorship option, thus bringing incremental revenue to the USTA’s coffers.
- Are there eco-tennis players among the top 128 or so in the world on the men’s and women’s sides? If so, feature them in the PSA’s. This will enhance the players’ awareness as well as the image of the USTA.
I will be glad to be proven wrong but, even if I’m right and there are no such green PSAs, kudos to USTA for its sustainability leadership. And, please, USTA, I’m begging you; get the green PSA’s produced in time for the 2017 US Open!
# Viewership data from 2015 US Open. Source: Statista.
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