Going, Going Green!

About the only thing greener than the outfield grass at the new Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., is the stadium itself.

The designers of the state-of-the-art, $611 million baseball stadium, which hosted its home opener on March 31st, 2008 can now boast creating America's most sustainable ballpark. Nationals Park is the nation's first major professional stadium to become LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certified by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).


"This is the first time a professional ballpark in the United States has attempted to obtain LEED certification," says Susan Klumpp, a principal at HOK, a sports facility architectural firm (renamed recently to Populous). She was also the project manager for the joint venture of HOK/Devrouax & Purnell, which designed the 41,222-seat stadium in the southeast corner of the city, near the banks of the Anacostia River.

"The owners realized that there are tremendous advantages to constructing a building that's sustainable," she notes. "It will perform better than a typical building and the fans will love it. This is the wave of the future. It just makes perfect sense," Susan adds. "Who wouldn’t want to do it? The building performs better and it helps the environment."

Green Initiatives Abound

The eye-catching ballpark is made of steel, glass and pre-cast concrete. It features many fan-friendly amenities, including cutting-edge audio and video technology; a 4,500-square foot, high-definition scoreboard; and concourses and seating decks designed into distinct "neighborhoods."

On a more organic note, a green space area beyond the centerfield wall features trees and other plants, and cherry trees are scattered throughout. Two full-time groundskeepers tend the trees and shrubs.

Fans probably won't notice many of the features that make the stadium a sustainability showcase, as well as help it achieve LEED certification. Developed by the USGBC, a non-profit group committed to promoting sustainable building practices, LEED is a rating system for developing high-performance buildings.

A building earns points for meeting specific requirements in five different areas: sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection and indoor environmental quality.

"The great thing about applying LEED standards to a sports facility is that the quantities of savings are exponentially greater," Susan says. "The facilities manager should be thrilled with this ballpark."

Because Nationals Park is one of the most technologically advanced stadiums in the country, ballpark operations personnel say they feel very fortunate to be a part of that.

Green Machines and More

From a facilities management standpoint, many things aren't done much differently than at other stadiums. But the tools and supplies used are definitely different.

For instance, the grounds crew use fuel-efficient lawn mowers and field maintenance vehicles. Tools such as power washers have "lean-burn" engines that draw more air than fuel. Vehicles from field ambulances to small carts are powered by electricity. Solar-powered vehicle re-charging stations are also being considered.

The new Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., is the first professional ball park in the United States to attempt LEED certification.

All cleaning supplies are environmentally responsible, with an emphasis on citrus-based products that actually work better than harsh detergents. And with a staff of 60 to 80 cleaning people, Nationals Park strives to be an extremely clean stadium.

Ushers are trained to clean up spills and other mishaps immediately. Moreover, each seating section has a section usher responsible for keeping it clean during a game. If something happens that the section’s staff can’t handle, the section usher calls a dispatch center that sends additional help. Recycling waste materials is another priority. Fans do not have to separate plastic, paper, glass and aluminum into separate recycling bins; one kind of bin handles all recyclables, and extensive signage provides clear recycling instructions for fans. A contractor hauls away recyclables and sorts them off-site.

Special Software Lends a Hand

Maintenance staff has received about twice as much training as staffers did at the Nationals’ old home, RFK Stadium. Since it’s a more complicated stadium to take care of, there's a very extensive preventative maintenance schedule. It 's also be easier to maintain because the equipment and systems do much of the work.

Managers rely on facilities management software to help ensure that things run smoothly. It keeps track of when things like water lines, electrical lines and water filters need to be inspected or replaced. There are 10,000 to 20,000 different items that the software tracks— everything from wireless communications and the video and public address systems to HVAC and food service—even down to the several hundred different kinds of light bulbs used at the stadium.

If a maintenance-related incident occurs, such as an air-conditioning breakdown, for example, the system notifies the dispatch center, which sends crews to resolve the problem right away. It tracks how long it takes crews to solve the problem.

Everything is computerized and on the system so facility personnel can handle things before the fans even notice something is wrong.

The stadium also employs its own carpenters, electricians and HVAC personnel so that problems can be handled quickly and efficiently.

Now that the Nationals have an award-winning stadium, the team need a little help to get on the winning track.

HOK/Devrouax & Purnell and the Washington Nationals

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