The National Basketball Association this week launched NBA Green Week — a comprehensive week of action taken by the league to promote environmental stewardship. The NBA is the only major professional sports league in the world to dedicate an entire week to educating tens of millions of fans about the importance of protecting the planet.
A sampling of NBA Green Week actions:
- The NBA is offsetting all the carbon-based electricity used in every game, league-wide, during Green Week. That’s 67 games — and will result in a carbon avoidance of more than 10 million pounds. It is one of the largest pollution offset initiatives by any sports league worldwide, and the only one to involve every team in the league.
- The NBA is launching a comprehensive environmental data gathering system for the arena operations of each of the league’s 30 teams. The Mosaic system is an on-line tool designed to measure environmental impact by tracking and analyzing data in energy use, waste generation, recycling and composting, water use, and paper procurement. It will be used to reduce waste, reduce carbon footprint, and to save money by identifying and utilizing areas for greater efficiency.
- The league started a “Pledge to Recycle” online fan contest on April 4. Fans who recycle their old mobile devices (any carrier) can win various prizes, including a trip for two to the 2013 Finals. Learn more at NBA.com/SprintPledge. Individual arenas will also host recycling events during the games in which fans can receive tickets and other give-aways for turning in old phones.
- The league is outfitting all players with 100 percent organic cotton shooting shirts (also made available at NBAStore.com) and NBA coaches and broadcasters will wear NBA Green lapel pins.
In addition to these (and other) league-wide initiatives, individual teams are also hosting their own programs in the arenas — and in the community. A brief sample:
- The Portland Trail Blazers are launching their annual “Bike to Blazers” event during their Green Awareness Game (April 17 vs. Dallas). Fans meet at a specified location downtown and bike a predetermined route to the game wearing their Trail Blazers colors.
- The Minnesota Timberwolves’ FastBreak Foundation has teamed up again with My 29 to create a statewide “Think Green” school competition encouraging schools to submit their plan on who in their school or classroom is making the effort to ‘Go Green’ and preserve and protect the environment. The winning school receives a $2,500 grant, a ‘Green Wolfie’ trophy, and on-court recognition on April 13th.
- The Houston Rockets helped students from the Briscoe and Rodriguez Elementary transition their winter garden to spring garden and assisted with composting. Rockets staff also planted 25 trees at Houston Gardens Elementary.
- The New York Knicks will contribute to a Volunteer Planting Day in the Bronx, which is part of New York City’s “Million Trees” program. The Knicks also have an ongoing “3’s for Trees” program that plants a tree in a New York City Park for every 3-pointer a Knicks player makes in a game.
- The Atlanta Hawks are planting trees along the Atlanta Belt Line and donating $7,500 to Trees Atlanta for further beautification projects during their April 12th game vs. Milwaukee.
- The Toronto Raptors are hosting an NBA Green Night with environmental education and messaging for all fans as well as information about the arena’s successful reduction of utility consumption by 10%, greenhouse gases by 30% and divert 74% of waste from landfill.
- The Denver Nuggets hosted 50 second graders from Dora Moore K-8 School at Denver Botanic Gardens to learn about gardening and the importance of protecting the environment.
- The Orlando Magic is encouraging students to adopt a “Think Green” attitude in their everyday lives by competing in Think Green Art Contest. Student winners will be featured on-court, presented with the Green NBA basketball, and have their artwork displayed.
“Millions of fans will take notice of the NBA’s important environmental initiatives and I hope that each one will take a small step or two of their own to reduce the ecological pressures we’re struggling with,” said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the National Resources Defense Council
- Five NBA team arenas are LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) by the US Green Building Council: Philips Arena (Atlanta Hawks), AmericanAirlines Arena (Miami Heat), Rose Garden Arena (Portland Trail Blazers), Toyota Center (Houston Rockets), and Amway Center (Orlando Magic).
- The Portland Trail Blazers now provide 10 electric vehicle charging stations housed within two of the Rose Garden parking garages, making the Rose Quarter the largest single site for electric vehicle charging in the region.
- The Minnesota Timberwolves installed a green roof spanning 115,000 square feet on the Target Center, making it the first green roof on any North America arena and currently the nation’s fifth-largest.
- The STAPLES Center (LA Lakers) has installed 1,727 solar panels, covering 25,000 square feet, or half of the total roof area.providing up to 20% of the building’s energy.
- Other teams to install solar panels include the The Golden State Warriors (500 solar panels) and Phoenix Suns (1,100 solar panels on their arena garage)
“The NBA’s commitment to reduce its ecological impact and to help educate basketball fans worldwide about the importance of environmental protection confirms why this league is regarded as one of the world’s most responsible sports organizations,” said NRDC’s Hershkowitz.
One wonders whether President Obama — an avowed basketball fanatic — may be among the millions of fans who take notice of the NBA’s initiative, particularly as he weighs his decision on the Keystone Pipeline and continues to promote an “all of the above” energy strategy which still promotes carbon-intensive fossil fuel production such as Arctic oil drilling, natural gas, and coal exports.
For starters, the President might follow the solar-panel example of the Lakers, Suns, and Timberwolves and re-install the White House solar panels torn down by President Reagan (as reported by CleanTechnica, here) — an initiative he promised in 2011 but has so far failed to fulfill.