Concessions: San Francisco’s AT&T Park Goes LEED

24 May

The city of San Francisco is typically known as a bellwether to eco-consciousness.

But in becoming the first previously existing major league stadium to attain Silver Certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the San Francisco Giants had to address a number of environmental challenges. Existing facilities have to meet separate requirements from new buildings to achieve LEED certification.

“I think it’s infinitely harder for existing ballparks to effectively retrofit their facilities to incorporate current trends and technologies into their existing practices,” said Jorge Costa, Giants senior VP of Ballpark Operations. “And there’s also an awareness that has to be created with the vendors and the public in making them know of the changes.”

Since the first stages of planning LEED certification two years ago, Giants staff and AT&T Park vendors, including Centerplate, Pacific Gas & Electric Company and Linc Facility Services have made a concerted effort in evaluating everything from waste management, recycling programs, lighting, water usage and even products and packaging.

The systemic approach brought a new attitude to AT&T Park, even though it has won Major League Baseball’s Green Glove award for recycling the past two years. The seventh-inning stretch, for instance, now includes an announcement from Giants manager Bruce Bochy asking fans for help picking up recyclables. Ushers wearing “Green Team” vests go into the stands, collecting any recyclable items the fans have collected up to that point in the game.

“I think the public awareness and education is pretty key to succeeding, and getting the numbers,” Costa said.

The team also installed new compact fluorescent lights throughout the park, and built a solar energy system which it plans to soon deploy. Low flush toilets were installed throughout the park, along with a powerful new Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision HD Scoreboard, which is 78 percent more efficient than its predecessor.

The park also dramatically increased its waste diversion numbers, with 67 percent of the ballpark’s waste being diverted from going to the landfill through an aggressive recycling and composting program. At a couple points last year, AT&T Park reached as high as 70 percent waste diversion, Costa explained.

“It’s a difficult standard to achieve and you couldn’t get there without the awareness of the fans and staff and all of the vendors,” he added.

Costa noted a particularly strong relationship with Linc Facility Services, which handles the stadium’s HVAC and engineering, and Giants hospitality partner, Centerplate.

While he didn’t disclose the total expense for the project, Costa said it was costly.  While ballparks like Target Field in Minnesota and Nationals Park in Washington were built with LEED certification in mind, Costa believes it was more difficult to achieve the high standard in a 10-year-old stadium.

Though the busy regular season schedule has kept Costa from speaking with many of his counterparts at other stadiums, he said sustainability has been a big initiative in Major League Baseball for several years.

“It’s about innovation and technology, good hard work, practices and awareness that are the key if you’re really going to try and accomplish this, and to maintain it long term,” Costa said. — Matt Gunn and Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Jorge Costa, (415) 972-2496

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