Indians’ green initiatives at Progressive Field recognized with White House invitation

Since implementing a variety of initiatives focused on reducing waste and conserving energy, the Indians have emerged as one of the leaders in sustainability among their peers in the sports world.

In recognition of the club’s efforts, Brad Mohr – the Assistant Director of Ballpark Operations at Progressive Field – was recently invited to the White House for a forum on sustainability in sports. The Indians were joined by fellow MLB teams including the Mariners, Cardinals, and Pirates, as well as a variety of panelists from throughout the sports industry.

“To get that attention, and to have a voice at that table, is extremely gratifying and completely validating to what we are doing here at Progressive Field, and across Major League Baseball,” said Mohr, who rejoined the Indians in 2005, and has led many of the club’s green efforts in recent years.

“I did a lot of research in the off-season between ’07 and ’08,” said Mohr. “Our contract was up with our trash hauler, and I said ‘we need to investigate a better way to do this stuff.’”

Since then, the Indians have greatly reduced the amount of waste the club produces. In 2007, the Indians sent 1,262 tons of trash to the landfill, but by 2011 the club had reduced its trash output by 50%, to just over 600 tons during the course of the season

After consulting a variety of organizations including local recycling companies, the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other pro sports teams, Mohr and the Indians implemented a comprehensive recycling program at Progressive Field.

“I’ve got to admit – it was kind of an easy program to implement, and it has paid dividends quickly,” said Mohr.

In addition to environmental concerns, the new recycling initiatives have provided a financial incentive for the Indians overall, by reducing trash pick-up costs and creating a new revenue stream from the sale of recycled materials. Mohr estimates the Indians are saving between $35,000 and $50,000 a year by reducing trash pick-ups.

The Indians’ sustainability efforts at Progressive Field will be one of the major subjects in a national Case Study named “The State of Sports Greening Report,” conducted by the NRDC, with results expected in the coming weeks.

The report will examine the recycling and waste reduction efforts at Progressive Field, in addition to the stadium’s alternative energy sources, including solar panels and the rooftop wind turbine.

Follow TribeVibe for a closer look at these alternative energy projects in the coming weeks.

- Max Lom, TribeVibe Contributor

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