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NBA Celebrates Greener All-Star Game At LEED Silver Certified Toyota Center

Alice Henly

Posted February 19, 2013 in Curbing Pollution, Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment

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This year the NBA All-Star weekend featured greener game-day practices and was hosted by the Houston Rockets at their LEED Silver certified Toyota Center. It was awesome—from the Saturday night dunk contest to the high-scoring “East vs. West” game on Sunday to the outdoor pickup games happening on the public court alongside the arena all weekend long. 

The Toyota Center is putting Houston on the map, both for basketball championships and green building.

In 2010 the Toyota Center became the first professional sports facility in Texas to achieve LEED certification. And according to Greg Poole, director of facility operations, it was among only two or three other buildings in Houston that were LEED-certified at the time. As of 2012, there are now more than 100 LEED-certified buildings in the Houston area.

NBA Green, a program of NBA Cares, worked hard to make sure the events leading up to and throughout All-Star weekend featured greener practices.

2013 nba allstars ewaste.bmpThe NBA tipped off the NBA All-Star 2013 in Houston with two successful e-recycling events featuring renowned players, in partnership with Sprint, CompuCycle and NRDC. On Friday February 8th NBA Legend Robert Horry and Houston Rocket Dancers hosted the e-recycling event.

On Saturday February 9th the electronic waste recycling drives were led by NBA Legends Elvin Hayes and Calvin Murphy, encouraging fans to recycle phones and other electronics such as computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers and fax machines.

The NBA’s ongoing work in electronics recycling, with the guidance of NRDC, is admirable because of the serious environmental and health risks electronic waste poses in landfills.

When thrown into the trash, e-waste ends up in landfills or incinerators, and these toxic heavy metals can be emitted as air pollutants or drain into soils and waters, polluting lakes and streams and making them unfit for drinking, swimming, fishing, and wildlife. The value of these metals, including some precious metals, is also lost when discarded.

2013 nba allstars ewaste 2.bmpThe best solution for electronic waste is to take it to collection events, recyclers, or take-back programs that use an e-Stewards Recycler, which the NBA always strives to use. The e-Stewards certification uses the highest standard to ensure recyclers protect the global ecosystem and human health when it comes to electronics recycling.

Other green initiatives integrated throughout All-Star weekend from February 15th to 17th included:

  • 2013 nba allstars recycling.bmpPlacing recycling stations throughout the arena.
  • Arranging for a green team, made up of 20 volunteers wearing visible green team shirts, to collect recycleables throughout the arena during and after events.
  • Scheduling shuttle buses to transport thousands of fans to and from all major hotels in the region for all arena events.
  • Making several announcements throughout events—on all arena screens, over the loudspeaker and via social media—reminding fans to recycle and to watch out for the green team volunteers with slogans like “Remember a true NBA All-Star recycles."

“Toyota Center has a unique opportunity to serve as an industry leader in the future of sustainability,” says Rockets Chief Executive Officer Tad Brown. “We are operating in a more environmentally conscious manner and educating the millions of patrons that attend Toyota Center events each year regarding ways they can help.”

2013 nba allstars sign.bmpIn addition to the greening initiatives at the 2013 All-Star weekend, the Toyota Center’s many green accomplishments include:

  • Reducing overall electricity use by more than 27% since 2003 and earning EnergyStar recognition by implementing energy efficiency measures, including installing a Building Automation System, compact fluorescent light bulbs throughout the venue (resulting in savings of $70,000 annually), and motion light sensors in offices.
  • Installing low-flow faucets, toilets, and urinals to reduce potable water use by 30 percent.
  • Achieving a 50 percent reduction in landscaping water use by using native plants and installing a drip irrigation system.
  • Increasing indoor air quality with entry mats that reduce particulates entering building and MERV 14 air filters on air handlers to reduce energy use.
  • Introducing a high performance green cleaning program including Green Seal-certified products.

Learn more about the Toyota Center’s impressive greening work by reading their case study feature in NRDC’s report “Game Changer: How the Sports Industry is Saving the Environment”.

Download your copy of the full report at www.nrdc.org/game-changer to find out how the NBA and many other NBA teams have teamed up with NRDC to implement greener, more efficient practices.  

Photo 1 Credit: NBAE/Dave Einsel; Photo 2 Credit: Bill Baptiste; Photo 3 & 4 Credit: Alice Henly.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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