Game Changer report: STAPLES Center among pro sports' sustainability pioneers

Solar panels and recycling bins are becoming as common as hot dog vendors for professional sports teams and their venues, according to a report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council, in collaboration with the Green Sports Alliance.

The new report documents innovative and cost-effective steps taken across all professional leagues, revealing STAPLES Center, home to four professional sports teams in Los Angeles, as a national leader in the sports greening movement.

"STAPLES Center hosts over 250 events annually and we pride ourselves in continually investing in environmentally friendly initiatives like our state-of-the-art solar energy systems, replacing all of our urinals with waterless urinals, reducing waste through recycling programs, purchasing biodegradable and non-toxic cleaning products and making energy efficiency the standard for our industry," said Lee Zeidman, senior vice president and general manager, STAPLES Center. "Our operations team is the best in the business and we are constantly looking for new and approved ways we can make our arena more sustainable and be a leader."

STAPLES Center has become a leader in energy-smart practices, boasting a 1,727-panel solar array atop its roof along with high-efficiency lighting, equipment and energy management systems, which have helped reduce the venue's overall electricity consumption by 12 percent.

Lighting retrofits, just completed in July, replaced more than 3,000 halogen fixtures with LEDs and will save an estimated $80,000 annually in energy costs. STAPLES Center also was the first U.S. arena to receive an ISO 14001 certification in 2010, a green management achievement, in 2010.

The report, "Game Changer: How the Sports Industry is Saving the Environment," presents 20 case studies of teams, venues and league events that have led the green movement in pro sports by adopting sustainable solutions to their energy, water and waste needs. The findings document the bottom-line benefits of greening and the role of sports as society's newest advocate for environmentally-sound practices, sentiments shared by Major League Baseball's Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig, who provided the report's preface and jumpstarted pro sports' greening efforts in 2006.

"In my two decades as commissioner, I have seen our sport take important strides forward on this essential issue," wrote Selig, who will be presented the Environmental Leadership Award at the Green Sports Alliance Summit Gala at Safeco Field on Sept. 6 in Seattle.

"As we strive to fulfill our social responsibilities, the national pastime will continue to protect our natural resources for future generations of baseball fans and to set an example of which they can be proud."