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Getting to CHS Field

It's Easy Being Green, CHS Field Claims Greenest New Ballpark

ST. PAUL, MN December 22, 2015



ST. PAUL, MN (December 22, 2015) – The 2015 season wrapped up three months ago, but the accolades continue to pour in for Ballpark Digest’s New Ballpark of the Year Award winner, CHS Field in Lowertown.  Prior to its opening, CHS Field was touted as The Greenest Ballpark in America.  That bold prediction came to fruition when CHS Field was named the Greenest New Ballpark courtesy of GreenSportsBlog (http://greensportsblog), one of the top read blogs in Sports + Green initiatives. CHS Field is the product of a private-public partnership between the City of Saint Paul, the State of Minnesota and the St. Paul Saints Baseball Club.


            CHS Field was up against heavy competition, including Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers and host of Super Bowl 50.  According to GreenSportsBlog, however, “small projects can sometimes be very influential.”  The blog goes on to say CHS Field “dotted a myriad of green ‘I’s’ and crossed many green ‘t’s’, often in innovative fashion.” “The Greenest Ballpark in America” addresses several sustainable objectives, including building construction and operations best practices, waste disposal, water conservation and alternative power generation and use, among others, all of which are wrapped into the initiative that is sponsored by St. Paul-based Ecolab, Inc., a founding partner in the ballpark.


At the heart of the initiative is an effort to make CHS Field a Zero Waste facility.  A robust recycling and composting program was designed by the Saints and Minnesota Waste Wise, an initiative of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce that works with private businesses throughout the state to minimize and creatively dispose of waste. The ballpark received a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency grant to further the effort, providing more than 30 different color-coded recycling and composting stations within the concourse, ensuring that fans didn’t need to walk far in order to find a place to recycle or compost.  The message was driven home to fans through a partnership with the Ramsey and Washington County Resource Recovery Project, Biz Recycling, in communicating and marketing the program to fans at all games in fun and entertaining ways. 


Levy Restaurants/ProSportsCatering, the company running CHS Field’s food and beverage operation, recycled and composted from the back of house.  The company also purchased recyclable or compostable material for food and drink containers, utensils and napkins.  Working through its waste hauler, Walter’s Recycling, the team was able to collect data and track performance from homestand to homestand throughout the season.


            “Sports facilities are real pigs when it comes to waste production. Reduction and creative disposal of the waste stream was a key factor affecting the design and operation of the ballpark,” according to Saints’ Executive Vice-President Tom Whaley.


            Energy efficiency and the use of alternative energy also was a key theme.  In left field, a 102.5 kW solar array supplies 12% of the ballpark’s energy demand, in addition to acting as a shade pavilion in The Lawn group sales area.  The project competed for and received a grant through Xcel Energy’s RDF program covering much of the cost of one of the largest in-stadium arrays in professional sports.  In addition, the ballpark utilizes the City’s District Energy system, which uses alternative fuels to heat and cool businesses and dwellings in the city’s downtown core.


            Sports stadia historically have been significant water wasters, “True oinkers,” according to Whaley. The ballpark houses a 27,000 gallon cistern, capturing rainfall from the 30,000 square foot roof of the Met Transit Operations and Maintenance Facility next door.  When fans flush toilets, the water used has been recycled from the cistern.  Additionally, 25% of the ballpark’s irrigation needs annually are met by re-used rain water.  This will save 450,000 gallons of domestic water each year. CHS Field is one of the first ballparks to reuse rainwater for field irrigation and fixture flushing. The rainwater re-use system was funded through grants from the Minnesota Clean Water Legacy Fund, the Metropolitan Council and the Capitol Region Watershed District. 


            Tree trenches at the Broadway entrance capture and filter storm water from the city street and adjacent sidewalks, before releasing it off site. A rain garden at the 4th Street entrance similarly captures and filters storm water.  A sub-grade filtration system below the playing field also captures and filters storm water. The ballpark is located less than a quarter-mile from the Mississippi River.


            To make room for CHS Field, a massive, vacant concrete warehouse was demolished and 82,000 yards of contaminated soil were removed from the site. In addition 95% of the building was recycled, including keeping 20% of the material on-site as part of new construction.


            All together, a site that was virtually 100% water impervious, now boasts 55.9% pervious greenspace.  A site with virtually no trees now contains 135 trees and 36,000 square feet of planting.


            GreenSportsBlog provides features and commentary about the increasingly active about the increasingly active and influential intersection of Green + Sports.  The blog reaches 400,000 unique visitors per month and is syndicated by GreenBiz and SportsTechie.