The outfield grass isn't the only thing that is green in Miller Park.
The Milwaukee Brewers' home ballpark was certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) facility in March.
It is the first retractable roof stadium and just the fourth Major League baseball stadium overall to receive the certification. The Minnesota Twins' Target Field, San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park and Washington Nationals' Nationals Park also have the designation.
All the other parks are open-air parks. The retractable roof makes it more challenging to meet energy and ventilation requirements of the LEED program.
"It is a challenge to achieve the designation in an existing building of this size and type, but we have all been focused on the end goal," said Bob Quinn, Brewers executive vice-president of finance and administration.
"Earning this designation means that we have significantly improved our sustainability and energy efficiency, and the benefits extend to the organization, our fans, partners, and the environment."
In order to get the LEED certification, a facility must meet rather rigorous standards. It must "use strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health, such as sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality."
LEED-certified facilities are designed to "lower operating costs and increase asset value, reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and generally promote health and safety for those using the building."
Some of the projects at Miller Park that led to the certification included retrofitting water fixtures -- saving 3 million gallons of water annually -- and the placement of 40 large recycling containers in parking lots, in addition to 100 inside the ballpark.
Here are some of the other improvements:
-- About 10 tons of waste are recycled from Miller Park from each game. All waste and recycling are now tracked. Since the 2010 season, 35 percent of all waste has been diverted from landfills to recycling. The Brewers also have participated in a "Green Week" e-cycling event through which 40,000 pounds of electronic waste is recycled.
-- The Brewers and the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District implemented a retro-commissioning project, which analyzed and made improvements to heating, ventilation & air conditioning (HVAC) systems, equipment and controls, plumbing systems and electrical lighting and power systems. This resulted in reducing 1,153 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, the equivalent to taking 220 cars off the road each year.
-- The new high-definition scoreboard uses 49 percent less energy than the original scoreboard in the park.
-- More than 50 percent of the cleaning products used in the park meet "green cleaning" criteria.
-- The team runs a "Plant A Tree" program with the Department of Natural Resources. Many of the trees are being planted along the Hank Aaron State Trail that runs from Miller Park through the Menomonee Valley.
Last June, the Brewers launched the "Brewing a Greener Game" initiative, which was cited by http://www.greensportsvenues.com. The event also was presented by the City of Milwaukee's Milwaukee Energy Efficiency (Me2) program.
"The Brewers demonstrate that it's possible to take actions that are good for business and the environment. We hope that businesses and households throughout the City of Milwaukee follow the Brewers example to make a more sustainable city," said Matt Howard, city of Milwaukee director of environmental sustainability.
Johnson Controls Inc. managed the LEED project at the ballpark. Key partners included Performance Clean LLC, Sportservice, Grumman/Butkus Associates, Waste Management and The Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District. Others involved included ImPark, Hunzinger Construction, Mortenson Contruction and Uihlein Wilson Architects.
"LEED certification at Miller Park required a tremendous team effort. Johnson Controls is proud to have facilitated the process to achieve the rigorous goals set by the US Green Building Council's LEED rating system," said Kim Hosken, director of green building services at Johnson Controls. "The Brewers organization deserves the recognition for their commitment to make Miller Park among the most sustainable stadiums in professional sports."
For Johnson Controls, the Miller Park project represented a rather unique, high-profile project.
"Johnson Controls works on sustainability projects around the world and is proud to have facilitated this challenging certification process for its home town team," said Iain Campbell, a vice president and general manager for building efficiency with Johnson Controls.
Johnson Controls has been working with energy-efficient green buildings since 1997, when the company participated with the U.S. Green Building Council to help establish the criteria for the original LEED rating system.
The company's Brengel Technology Center in Milwaukee was one of the first eight pilot projects that pioneered the application of the rating system, receiving a LEED Silver rating in 2001. Johnson Controls has more than 1,350 LEED-accredited professionals around the world.
In 2005, Major League Baseball partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council on the first league-wide greening program in professional sports. Since the launch of this partnership, nearly all MLB franchises have established ballpark sustainability initiatives.
Rick Schlesinger, Brewers' CEO, said the club's commitment to green initiatives will continue because they make business sense and are the right thing to do for the environment and more than 3 millions fans who come to Miller Park.
"Our commitment will continue in 2012 and beyond," said Schlesinger. "We are committed to improving our efficiencies and programs and will look to keep Miller Park as an industry leader in these efforts."
-- Hoffmann writes the GreenBiz feature monthly. He has covered the Brewers for various media since 1977, writes for Game Day magazine and publishes http://www.midwestdiamondreport.com.