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Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) - The Cleveland Indians and Progressive Field Case Study - Demonstrating leadership in waste reduction, energy conservation and recycling

On Sept. 18, 2015, against the backdrop of beautiful Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler presented 10 Ohio organizations with the agency’s Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) Awards. Ohio EPA’s E3 Awards program recognizes businesses, non-profits and government agencies in the Buckeye State for going above and beyond to demonstrate environmental excellence. The E3 program provides three recognition levels: Achievement, Silver and Gold. Silver recipients demonstrate a commitment to exceed regulatory compliance obligations and have exceptional achievements in environmental stewardship. Gold recipients exceed regulatory compliance obligations and commit to long-term achievements in environmental stewardship.

However, unknown to the host of this event, a special recognition was prepared to highlight their environmental achievements and welcome them into the E3 Gold Level program along with the other awardees.

The Cleveland Indians have partnered with Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA and the City of Cleveland to implement a wide array of environmental stewardship activities. They have pioneered efforts to green sports venues and have successfully implemented several waste reduction, energy conservation and recycling projects resulting in significant environmental and economic benefits. In addition, they have used these projects to engage the community by participating in a number of sustainability based initiatives in the Cleveland area. They have also used their successes to educate their fans on the benefits of going green and completed a number of outreach and education activities to encourage the broader public to become involved in improving the environment.

Green Venues Pledge – Progressive Field, previously known as Jacobs Field, opened in 1994 as a part of the Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex. Jacobs Field was the first baseball-only facility used regularly by the Cleveland Indians since 1947. Progressive Field has a seating capacity of just over 43,000. In 2011, the Cleveland Indians signed the Cleveland Green Venues Pledge to take steps to protect the air and water, preserve natural resources, increase green space, reduce consumption of raw materials and support the local economy.

This pledge focuses on:

  • waste reduction, reuse and recycling through materials management;
  • water conservation and efficiency;
  • energy conservation and efficiency;
  • environmentally preferable purchasing;
  • transportation and air quality; and
  • community connections.

Another key component of this pledge is to reach out to fans, patrons and the community at large to teach the value and practice of sustainable living.

Recycling – Progressive Field implemented a sustainability program in 2007, when they realized the cost of trash pickups. A key part of this program focused on recycling with a goal to provide opportunities and education for both the fans and staff to participate in the recycling of aluminum cans, plastic bottles, office paper and cardboard. During an 81-game season, 1,300 tons of trash was generated, requiring 300 trash pickups for a 36-yard compactor. The initial recycling program was not single-stream and required the staff to separate the recyclables, which was both labor- and cost-intensive. The recycling program has expanded and the stadium now has two balers for aluminum and cardboard, and gaylords for paper. By increasing the diversion rate for trash in the landfill, they experienced significant savings in trash haul expenses and continue to reduce their waste footprint. This is accomplished with a partnership with Republic Waste and Gateway Recycling. Since the start of the recycling program, Progressive Field saves anywhere from $37,000-$57,000 annually. Implementation of commingled recycling decreased the amount of labor required by the stadium.

Recycling amounts for 2014 were:

  • Aluminum/Plastic – 35 tons
  • Paper – 63 tons
  • Cardboard – 137 tons
  • Fry Oil – 14,550 pounds recycled and converted to biofuel
  • Food Recycling – 5,918 pounds donated to Food Bank

Energy – In 2007, the Indians became the first American League Ballpark to install solar panels. Green Energy partnered with Doty and Miller Architects to design and install 42 GE solar panels. The panels generate 15,000 kWh of energy per year. The stadium has also reduced its energy usage though conservation. The staff turn off heat and electricity in areas that are not used, including sections of the stadium during games depending on ticket sales.

Through educating staff and changing habits, Progressive Field’s energy usage has been reduced from 23 million kilowatts per year to 17 million kilowatts per year. The Indians have begun the process of retrofitting the lighting in the Ballpark with LED lights during the past two years. The goal is to have all lights changed to LED by 2017, including the field lights for Progressive Field. This lighting change out will result in a reduction of nearly 20 to 30 percent of the overall energy consumption for the ballpark.

Composting – During 2014, the Indians partnered with Emerson Solutions and Grind 2 Energy to assist with the composting of food waste at Progressive Field. Food was diverted from the landfill to anaerobic digestion, which creates methane gas that is sold to a local power company. The leftover organic product is used as a fertilizer for fields in Northeast Ohio. Over the past year, Grind 2 Energy has transformed 86 tons of food scraps into renewable energy. This equals enough natural gas to heat 46 homes for one month or enough electricity to power 32 homes for one month. This also eliminated greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 139,447 automobile miles and created 12,133 pounds of nutrient-rich fertilizer.

New Initiatives – The Indians are continuing their sustainability journey by exploring and identifying new opportunities to improve their environmental stewardship efforts. They continue investment in low-flow appliances to conserve water and increase awareness of the stadium’s green initiatives. They have investigated the use of wind turbine technology to expand their alternative energy generating capabilities. They are working with local partners to install a garden on the patio portion of their stadium. The garden will grow vegetables used by the concessionaire for a variety of foods at the ballpark. It will also provide a platform for educating fans on the sustainability efforts of the team. A portion of the garden was in place by September 2015. They are also working in conjunction with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to potentially install water capturing cisterns on the top of concession stands in the Upper Deck in 2016. These cisterns will capture water from the stadium and be used to help power-wash the Ballpark after each event.

Interested in applying for recognition for your organization under the E3 Program? If so, please visit epa.ohio.gov/ohioE3.aspx or call (800) 329-7518. We would be glad to help guide you through the process and get your organization the recognition it deserves.

 

 

Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler and Jerry Crabb, Senior Director of Ballpark Operations, Cleveland Indians

 

Jerry Crabb, Senior Director of Ballpark Operations, Cleveland Indians 

 

 

 

Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler and Dan Hanna, VP Operations and General Manager at PEL America Waste Reduction and Recycling Equipment with bottle crusher.