Why Be Green > Good Business

Many of the suggestions in this guide can reduce operating costs. Improved efficiency means less waste, which often translates into cost savings. Reducing paper use, for example, saves money. A typical office disposes of about 350 pounds of wastepaper per employee per year. Switching from single-sided to double-sided printing can cut this figure – and corresponding expenditures and environmental impacts – almost in half. Adding other paper reduction strategies can reduce costs associated with paper use even further.

Sports Case Studies

With the assistance of NRDC, the Philadelphia Eagles and Lincoln Financial Field launched their “Go Green” program in 2003, making the organization one of the first in professional sports to initiate a comprehensive program focused on reducing its environmental impact. The Eagles have since developed a robust sustainability program including reducing energy use; adopting a comprehensive recycling program, including composting and recycling of cooking oil into biodiesel; installing solar panels at their practice facility; and retrofitting toilets and faucets with water-efficient fixtures. The Eagles’ Go Green program has helped save more than $3 million since 2005. They have also been able to generate new revenue by selling sponsorships to companies interested in being linked to their green initiatives.

Through numerous energy efficiency improvements, the Seattle Mariners reduced Safeco Field’s use of natural gas by 66 percent and electricity consumption by 30 percent in 2009 compared to 2006. The Mariners saved over $1 million in utility costs for electricity, natural gas, water and sewer discharges in just over three years One of their cost-saving initiatives was to replace their old incandescent bulb scoreboard and cooling system with a new LED scoreboard. Replacing the scoreboard not only lowered electricity consumption by over 90 percent from 1.2 million kwh to 130,000 kwh, but also reduced energy costs by $50,000 per year, not including an anticipated rebate for the project of about $150,000 from the local utility. The Mariners are also investing in HVAC changes, lighting retrofits, and plumbing changes, including the recent installation of waterless urinals. These projects are estimated to save an additional $500,000 annually. Read more about the Mariners’ greening efforts.

In 2007 NRDC arranged an energy efficiency and water audit at the STAPLES Center (home of the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, and Kings) to identify opportunities for efficiency improvements.  As a result, the arena has made a number of operational improvements that have yielded reductions in energy use, water use, and costs. One of the biggest projects included the installation of a 345.6-kilowatt solar system on the arena’s roof in 2008, which supplies 2.5% of the building’s energy use (depending on energy load), producing 525,000 kWh and saving $55,000 each year. Also instigated by the audit, in 2009 the STAPLES Center replaced all 178 urinals with waterless urinals—formerly consuming 44,000 gallons each annually—for total water savings of over 7 million gallons of water a year and about $28,200 in direct water costs. Read more about the STAPLES Center’s greening efforts.

In three years the Cleveland Indians and Progressive Field cut their annual waste in half by significantly expanding their recycling facilities to sort waste on-site. This reduced the number of trash compactor pickups–that cost the Indians an average of $500 each–by 64 percent from 254 pickups in 2007 to 92 in 2010, saving the Club $50,000 annually. Read more about the Indians’ greening efforts.

The 2.5-acre green roof installed atop the Target Center (home of the Minnesota Timberwolves) in 2009 captures a million gallons of stormwater per year, preventing urban runoff and saving $10,000 annually in stormwater charges, as well as helping to alleviate the urban heat island effect.

The American Airlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat, earned LEED Certification for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance (EBO&M) in April 2009.  LEED qualifying features include: reflective roof materials that reduce cooling needs; a drip-and-soak irrigation system which runs underground and reduces the amount of water that evaporates; drought-resistant landscaping; underground parking that reduces the amount of exposed asphalt causing heat island effect; and the elimination of an on-site water chiller at the arena which reduces energy use.  Energy and water cost savings achieved by these improvements save $500,000 annually, or 10 to 15% of utility costs.  Read more about the American Airlines Arena’s greening efforts.

Through improved operating systems, lighting controls, occupancy sensors, and CFL retrofits, the energy use at the St. Louis CardinalsBusch Stadium has been reduced by nearly 24% since the stadium opened in 2006. Their annual energy cost has been reduced by 15.2%, saving just over $300,000.

Corporate Examples

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the 16th busiest airport in the US, increased its recycling from 100 tons diverted in 2001 to 900 tons diverted in 2005, saving $178,000 in waste disposal fees in just one year.  A composting program with concessionaires increased waste diversion to 1,300 tons in 2009. In 2010, the airport introduced an innovative off-aircraft recycling program and computer automated compactors, raising their annual savings to $250,000 in avoided disposal fees.  The airport is aiming for a 50% recycling rate by 2014. Read more about the airport’s greening initiatives.

Between 2000 and 2004, Bank of America reduced its paper consumption dramatically through an institution-wide campaign of online reports and forms, email, double-sided copying and lighter-weight papers. By reducing the basis weight of its ATM receipts from 20 pounds to 15 pounds, Bank of America saved more than just paper; this simple move also gained the bank additional savings in transportation, storage and handling costs, to the tune of $500,000 a year.  Paper used for internal operations decreased 32%, saving more than a billion sheets of paper. A cost cut of $20,000 was made on a single report, by sending out postcards notifying clients that it was available online. By making forms available online instead of sending out hard copies, the company saved an estimated $10 million, not including the savings in postage and storage.

By taking steps to divert recyclables from its waste stream and increasing the efficiency of its energy and water use, the Oakland Processing and Distribution Center of the US Postal Service has totaled savings of $500,000 a year.

By redesigning its packaging in 2005 to incorporate reusable plastic totes for internal distribution, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was able to avoid the purchase and disposal costs for 580,000 cardboard boxes, resulting in savings of $520,000 a year.