In less than a decade under Derrick Hall’s leadership, the Arizona Diamondbacks have become one of the MLB’s most successful franchises on the field and in the realm of sustainability. Building upon a deep commitment to the Phoenix community and a pursuit of innovation on the operations front, the Diamondbacks have proven that greening the ballpark is both financially prudent and the right thing to do as a corporate citizen in the Valley.
GoGreen Conference: What was the motivation for the Diamondbacks journey into sustainability? What was the first initiative and why did you start there?
Derrick Hall: We have a social responsibility to pursue sustainability in all aspects of our operation. We recognize that we can serve as a very strong influencer for local businesses, as well as our stakeholders, such as season ticket holders, corporate partners and casual fans. Every action that we take here at Chase Field can be replicated in the business or home of these people. We figure if these people observe the changes we have taken in such a complex facility, they will be encouraged about following our lead.
The Northwind system was arguably our initial foray into sustainability, and was developed from the need to air condition our facility during the hot Phoenix summer. It uses a chilled water and serves as a sustainable air conditioning provider for most office buildings downtown. Other early initiatives have included recycling programs with Waste Management and solar projects with APS. Several corporate partners are showcasing their own sustainability efforts and we are a strong platform for them to partner with. The Diamondbacks (and its venues) are making some substantial capital investments into facilities.
GoGreen: Why have you chosen to take the leap past simple efficiency retrofits (recycling, LED lighting, low-flow faucets, etc.) and into more infrastructure-related projects? What do you believe the ROI will be literally (financial terms) and figuratively (environmental/community impact/etc.)?
DH: Again, social responsibility leads these decisions. We recognize the business efficiencies and ROI that will result from many of these changes, but this is not the motivating factor behind these investments. Our ownership has an interest in the D-backs becoming industry leaders in all aspects of our business and sustainability is no different. Also, as our facility enters the second half of its lifespan, many areas are in need of renovation or replacement, so it just makes sense for us to include sustainability. Making the change to sustainable components is the easy decision to make and, in some cases, the only alternative (i.e., light bulbs and government policies phasing out incandescent light bulbs and requiring the use of CFL or LED instead).
GoGreen: Have you found programs like MLB Green Tracks to be good motivators? Is it helpful to feel some added pressure from friendly competition? If so, do you think a similar model could be used in other industries successfully? How so? Continue reading