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05/21/08 10:00 AM ET
'Going green' not just a fad with Tribe
Recycling, solar power two major conservation initiatives
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
Brad Mohr's official title with the Indians is "assistant director of ballpark operations," but you could probably get away with calling him the Tribe's resident "green guru." It is Mohr's responsibility to oversee the improvement and enhancement of the club's environmental initiatives and reduce the carbon footprint left behind at Progressive Field. And judging by the Indians' efforts in this area the last two years -- most recently through their 2008 "Our Tribe is Green ... Are you in the Tribe?" campaign -- Mohr is a busy man. "It's the right thing to do," Mohr said of the efforts. "We view ourselves as a business leader in the city, and we thought we would grab this by the horns and go all out with it. I'm getting all kinds of people calling us for advice and asking to tour our facility to see what we're doing and tour our recycling panels. We're providing a great example of how to do things right." Recycling has taken place at the ballpark formerly known as Jacobs Field since it opened in 1994. But in June of '07, the Indians took their environmental efforts a step further by becoming the first American League team to install solar panels in the upper deck. The solar panels produce 8.4 kilowatts of clean, renewable electricity -- enough to power the more than 400 televisions located throughout the facility. The Indians partnered with the Cleveland Foundation, Green Energy Ohio and the Ohio Department of Development to make the solar panel project a reality. It also includes an educational component. "If you go up there, you will see there is a [Power] Point presentation constantly running of current, real-time energy production and other ways you can get involved in sustainable energy in Northeast Ohio," Mohr said. "It's actually part of a concession stand. So if you're up there buying a beer, you're going to learn about sustainable energy, whether you want to or not." And if you're buying a beer or any other beverage at the ballpark this season, you're receiving a corn starch cup, which is being vended in the concession stands for the first time. Unlike ordinary paper cups, the corn starch cups decompose in less than 30 days. That's only the beginning, Mohr said. "We're researching ways to expand that to include plastic cutlery and also doggy-type bags and plates," he said.
Such changes at a facility where tens of thousands of people gather on a daily basis to watch the Indians in action can have quite an environmental impact. That's why the Indians installed oversized Pepsi recycling stations throughout the ballpark this year, in addition to running public-service announcements on the scoreboard that stress the importance of recycling.
Mohr pointed out that in the first 20 home games of the 2008 season, more than 13 tons of cardboard, more than four and a half tons of paper, one and a half tons of plastic and one and three-quarters tons of aluminum were recycled.
"That's just 20 games," Mohr stressed.
In the bowels of the building, workers are making 1,500-pound bales out of cardboard and 500-pound bales out of plastic to ease the recycling efforts and save a few bucks as well.
"We're getting money back for them in rebates and saving a lot of trash hauling," Mohr said. "Before, those would be picked out by the trash hauler to be recycled. So we're doing that on the front end and saving money by picking it out ourselves."
Mohr doesn't want to stop there. This month, he attended the International Stadium Management Conference in St. Louis, where representatives from various facilities discussed their efforts to "go green" and shared ideas.
"On the one hand, we're getting a lot of confirmation that we're doing things right," Mohr said. "We're also getting other ideas of new products and procedures of how we can make ourselves more efficient."
Mohr said the Indians are going to do another sustainable energy project in the near future, be it through another solar endeavor or the use of wind turbines.
Indeed, the Indians want their ballpark to be progressive in ways other than its corporation-sponsored name.
"We're certainly on the front cusp of this movement," Mohr said. "We view ourselves as a leader in the greening of sports venues."
|In the first 20 home games of the 2008 season, more than 13 tons of cardboard, more than four and a half tons of paper, one and a half tons of plastic and one and three-quarters tons of aluminum were recycled.|
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.