The Phoenix Suns NBA basketball team has announced that they will be installing 1,125 solar panels on their parking garage to help power their arena. The clean energy project will cost about $1.5 million and will reportedly not increase ticket prices for fans. The 194 kilowatt solar power system will provide an equivalent amount of energy to what would be used in about 26 home games per season. The system should be operational next year.
The Suns created a “green committee” last year to help brainstorm and create solutions that would make the basketball team and its facilities more environmentally-friendly. The idea for solar panels apparently came about thanks to the suggestion of star point guard Steve Nash. He is installing solar panels at his personal home and urged the team and franchise to do likewise.
The effort is also part of a larger initiative by the city of Phoenix. The city’s mayor was quoted as saying: “Our goal for Phoenix is to become the first sustainable city of the 21st Century. With this project, we have taken another step toward a sustainable Downtown, powered by renewable energy sources.” The Sun’s solar power system alone will eliminate close to 440,000 pounds of CO2 per year.
While not the first major sports team to use alternative energy, the Suns are still among the few early adopters. As more and more sports franchises follow the lead and begin seeking ways to be more environmentally-friendly, it makes sense that fans will catch on with their personal actions. If anything, it provides an informal education opportunity for large groups of people to see and learn about alternative energy.
Here’s a brief listing of some of the other major sports teams you can support who have also undertaken alternative energy projects and initiatives to decrease their operating costs and negative effects on the environment:
- Baseball: the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, and Colorado Rockies have all installed solar panels.
- Basketball: the Los Angeles Lakers also have plans to install solar panels.
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Levi Novey is a conservation professional who has received a bachelor's degree in History from Tufts University and a master's degree in Conservation Social Sciences from the University of Idaho. He worked for the U.S. National Park Service for 10 years, as a park ranger in 6 national parks, as a social science researcher in 5 parks, and as the science communicator for a Natural Resource Inventory and Monitoring Network that serves 9 parks. He has authored several scholarly papers as well as several guidebooks to U.S. national parks. Levi also has taught an undergraduate Environmental Communication Skills course at the University of Idaho, won several photography contests, and regularly enjoys visits to parks, protected areas, historical sites, museums-- and just about anywhere where he can learn something new about the world. He currently lives in Peru, with his wife Alicia, and their daughter Coral.