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Sports arenas are not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of green buildings. With their flashing light displays, tons of waste from vendors and food services, and the occasional case of Astroturf, stadiums have a lot to overcome when it comes to going green. Even so, there are a number of big sports complexes making a real effort to help the environment rather than hurt it. Here’s our list of seven of the greenest sports complexes in the world.
Croke Park in Dublin is the largest sports stadium in Ireland and the forth largest in Europe. In 2008, the stadium began a program called Cúl Green which aims to make Croke Park — home of the Gaelic Games and host of a variety of events from concerts to soccer — the first major sports arena in the world to go carbon neutral. The program encourages fans to play their part in making the park carbon neutral by making carbon-saving pledges through their Web site.
Richmond Olympic Oval
The Richmond Olympic Oval will be the speed skating venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The city is making serious efforts to make this year’s Olympics one of the greenest in history, and this venue is a key part of reaching that goal. The inspiring LEED certified building contains three levels and a massive wood wave roof inspired by local ecology, using lumber affected by the Mountain pine beetle. It also features energy-saving refrigeration and rainwater collection systems.
Home of Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals, this shining new stadium proudly represents the nation’s capital by being the first LEED-certified green major sports stadium in the United States. It features energy-efficient lighting and low-flow water, has a program for recyclingleftover hot dog wrappers and showcases a 6,300 square-foot green roof that covers the concessions area.
World Games Stadium
This beautiful, snake-like complex in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, was designed by world-renowned architect Toyo Ito. It is one of the first stadiums in the world to provide most of its power from solar energy. The solar panels covering the external face of the park are able to generate enough power to keep the stadium running plus additional power that can be stored and sold back to the grid.
TCF Bank Stadium
TCF Bank Stadium is home of the University of Minnesota’s college football team, also known as the Golden Gophers. The horseshoe-shaped space gets a nod for being the first LEED-certified college football stadium in the U.S., an important accomplishment since American football is one of the least eco-friendly* of the major sports. The stadium was built with 97 percent recycled steel and will eventually be served by light transit connecting it with other Minneapolis venues. (* Football teams only play a handful of games in their stadiums each season, so the large complexes are often unused for most of the year.)
Stade de Suisse
Located in Bern, this is the second-largest soccer stadium in Switzerland and was one of the venues for Euro 2008, also known as the UEFA European Football Championship. The stadium is powered almost exclusively bysolar and boasts an overall power output of 1,134,045 kilowatts per year, the equivalent of 350 four-person households.
Philips Arena in Atlanta is the home of the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks and the National Hockey League’s Atlanta Thrashers. In 2009, the Georgia facility became the first NBA or NHL arena to achieve LEED certification for an existing facility. The stadium set the bar for others in the NBA and NHL and is no longer the only LEED-certified arena for those sports; several more stadiums are scheduled to meet those standards within the next year.