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Alice Henly’s Blog

Penn State Grows Green Sports Program

Alice Henly

Posted April 25, 2013 in Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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This week Penn State University hosted NRDC and the Green Sports Alliance as part of their Earth Week celebrations, which coincided with the annual Blue-White spring football game.  It was the perfect opportunity to talk green sports. 

Since 1995, Penn State has worked to implement more environmentally friendly practices throughout athletics and recreation. Penn State University is home to the first U.S. ballpark to be awarded LEED certification. In 2006, Medlar Field became LEED certified thanks to a variety of greener building practices, including: using only waterless urinals, plumbing for grey water throughout, using recycled content for all locally-manufactured stadium seats, an advanced recycling program and diverting over 75% of construction waste from landfill. 

Some other examples of their successes to date in greener sports operations include:

  • College-20130420-00903.jpgAchieving LEED Gold certification for their recent Recreation Hall expansion.
  • Achieving zero waste at the Bryce Jordan Center.
  • Recycling an average of 85 tons annually during football games to save approximately $12,500 in cleanup costs per game
  • Donating all recycling proceeds to United Way --over $85,000 since 1995.IMG-20130420-00894.jpg
  • Establishing the Students Taking Action To Encourage Recycling (S.T.A.T.E.R.S) program to help encourage recycling during football games.
  • Distributing over 100 A-frames with free 70%-postconsumer-recycled bags throughout all tailgating areas. 
  • IMG-20130420-00899.jpgBuilding the new Pegula Ice Rink to LEED Gold standards, which will open in 2013. 

While in town, we had the privilege of touring these impressive facilities and programs as well as presenting to the Smeal College of Business Net Impact group about the professional and collegiate sports greening movement. The students were energized to build on the S.T.A.T.E.R.S program to integrate student-led greening projects across athletics and reaction facilities at Penn State.

IMG-20130419-00886.jpgNet Impact students plan to join with a newly formed staff Athletics Green Team to take advantage of the strong business case for greening, from operational cost savings to branding opportunities and attracting new sponsors. The staff/student green sports coalition seeks to grow Penn State's leadership in sustainability on campus and throughout their community by using their powerful sports platform.

"Sustainability is a great way to lead our community, and we all have a role to play," said Bill O'Brien, head coach of Penn State's football team. "After all, Penn State has the first LEED stadium in the United States."

Get involved in the growing green sports movement and learn about the NRDC Sports Project by following us at @NRDCGreenSports and #GreenSports.

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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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