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Greening baseball's fields of dreams: Major league gets serious about a new sort of stat

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Major League Baseball develops new app to collect and share environmental, operations best practices across stadium

OK, I will be the first to admit that I know nothing, nothing about baseball (yawn). This shortcoming is courtesy of my Canadian-import father, who was far more interested in a much more interesting and entertaining sport, ice hockey. But I'll have to admit that even though I will probably never step in a ballpark this season, I'm suitably impressed by a new project being undertaken by Major League Baseball (MLB) that will use a new software application, jointly developed with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), to improve environmental best practices in its stadiums.

This is important, because?

Well, OK, aside from the simple fact that sharing data about stuff that works -- from recycling programs to greens maintenance to stadium lighting efficiency to more water-friendly restrooms -- is just smart, MLB has a pretty big reach across a pretty darn big demographic. That means fans of all shapes and sizes are going to be subjected to lots of information about environmentally-friendly behavior that they might wind up bringing home after the game.

The blitz will be extra-blitzy during the week around Earth Day on April 22. Just a couple of examples:

  • The Chicago White Sox will actually be featuring in-game videos with conservation and recycling tips
  • The Cinncinnati Reds organization will be participating in local electronic waste drives
  • While no one seems to be investing (yet) in renewable energy sourcing, several of the teams have started buying renewable energy credits to offset the massive power consumption associated with stadium-style sporting events

The information collected by the new software being deployed by the clubs will collect information about water consumption, waste management procedures and recycling, paper usage, and energy consumption. Data will be input on a monthly basis (not real time yet!) and then analyzed and shared across the league so individual clubs can act on them accordingly.

Commenting on the project in his blog, NRDC Senior Scientist Allen Hershkowitz said:

"The commitment by our national pastime to enhance its ecological profile in a meaningful and public way marks a wastershed event in the history of the environmental movement. No other sporting institution has influenced American culture as much as baseball, and MLB is once again putting that influence to very good use. Baseball is a game of statistics and the League's commitment to systematically document and measure environmental practices of all clubs at all stadiums underscores the leadership and commitment of MLB to make environmental progress. All professional leagues should follow this important example."

Batter up!

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure