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Earth Dr Reese Halter's Blog

NATURE'S BLUEPRINT

Dr Reese in Action!

Story ran in Toronto Star April 11, 2007

With an ever-increasing focus on how we can all address climate disruption and global warming, sports arenas throughout North America are gearing up to go green. The race to blend clean alternative energies with smart design is on. Is Toronto in?

North America’s insatiable demand for energy is creating rising carbon dioxide emissions, which are melting land glaciers at a record rate. In fact, within approximately the next 15 years the ice caps on tropical glaciers in the Andes and Africa will be gone. It is clearer than ever that we must all now do our part and begin to reduce our carbon footprint and the amount of energy we use.

Sports facilities around the world are recognizing the need to make changes and reduce their dependency upon oil, gas and coal-based energies. As a result some very innovative changes are afoot.

The new Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., will boast a green filtration system designed to filter general debris – one for stadium debris like peanut shells and candy wrappers and one for fertilizers. As a result, the beautiful and historic Anacostia River will be protected from unwanted runoff.

Nashville’s minor-league baseball team, the Sounds are considering carpeting their stadium roof with a low-lying succulent plant called sedum. Sedum roofs both look good and help the environment by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The use of sedum is very popular in Europe – in fact, 10 percent of buildings throughout Germany have sedum roofs.

And green arena innovations continue elsewhere. The Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., has a water-filtration system that collects and re-circulates black and gray water. Four years ago in Miami, Super Bowl XLI put over one million pounds of carbon dioxide into the air, not including air travel. To counteract this, the NFL planted over 3,000 trees throughout Florida to help offset its greenhouse gases.

Recently, the San Francisco Giants teamed up with Pacific Gas & Electric Company to make AT&T Park the first stadium in Major League Baseball to go solar. Now, 590 panels will generate about 120 kilowatts of energy – enough to power more than 20 homes for an entire year. Excess power generated by the panels not used by AT&T Park will be fed back into the power grid to supply homeowner’s with energy.

In addition, AT&T Park will install a new Diamond Vision scoreboard that uses 78% less energy than the ballpark’s original scoreboard. And while San Francisco is not sun-rich, the ocean fog that frequently rolls in and out of the city enables the tallest trees on the face of the Earth – coastal redwoods – to live at their southern extremity.

In contrast, the Toronto-area receives over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year – significantly more than San Francisco. Both the Air Canada Centre and the Rogers Centre could easily be fitted with solar panels that would offset the need to use conventional power from the grid. Both facilities could either sell any excess energy back into the Toronto energy grid or sell their green credits in  Chicago on the open market.

In addition, both stadiums could utilize wind turbines in partnership with Toronto Hydro Energy Services to further counterbalance the amount of energy that the respective teams are using. Toronto already has Canada’s first urban wind-turbine, so why not implement two more for both of its world-class sports facilities.

It is vitally important for the Leafs, Raptors and Blue Jays to reduce their carbon footprint and show an ongoing commitment to the environment. All three teams and facilities are respected across Canada and North America and are in a position to take leadership on this issue. Going green at Toronto’s sports arenas will lift the bar and set a challenge for Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver to follow – kick-starting a new wave in the NHL and getting the green ball-bouncing in the NBA.

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Earth Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster and distinguished biologist. His latest books are The Insatiable Bark Beetle and The Incomparable Honeybee

Contact Earth Dr Reese Halter

Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2012. All rights reserved.

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