More than the grass is green at this ballpark

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April 12, 2010
By: Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas
// Target Field earns LEED Silver status //


Twins’ history is replete with examples of warning track heroics: Kirby Puckett’s superhuman leap in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series; Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds with an over-the-wall grab in the 2002 All-Star Game; or even the time Carlos Gomez knocked himself silly against the fence in a 2008 game at Cleveland, yet still came up with the ball.

Target Field already has a remarkable warning track story. You just have to dig a little deeper to find it.

Buried beneath the outfield is a 100,000-gallon cistern, one component of a rainwater recycling system that may save the Twins up to 2 million gallons of water each year. That’s the estimate from Pentair, a Minneapolis manufacturer of water purification and pumping systems that installed the Target Field system.

The system was just one part of the Twins strategy to make Target Field the greenest ballpark in baseball. The effort paid off April 8, when Twins officials announced the stadium had achieved LEED Silver certification.

Target Field was just the second ballpark after Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., to meet the benchmarks for LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the U.S. Green Building Council’s design standards for environmentally sustainable buildings. The Twins come out on top in this match-up, earning 36 points on the LEED scoring system to the Washington National’s 34.

It’s no World Series pennant, to be sure, but Twins President Dave St. Peter called it an “historic” win for sustainability.

“We’ve achieved something no other sports facility in the United States has achieved,” St. Peter said.

The Pentair-designed rainwater recycling system won’t be ready for the Twins home opener April 12. But once it’s operational later this season, it could supply much of the water used for field irrigation and seat washing in the lower decks.

“The irrigation and the wash down is a significant water drain to the stadium,” said Todd Gleason, a Pentair spokesman. “Assuming we get just enough rainfall, and we’re capturing the irrigation and the wash down consistently throughout the year, we think we can save the Twins 50 percent of their municipal water usage, and that’s an exciting savings.”

Gleason said a series of pipes buried beneath the playing surface funnel water into the massive cistern. The water is filtered and purified, then pumped into a 5,000-gallon above ground holding tank.

“This is a one of its kind, and the first,” he said. “We want to stress [that it’s] the first, because we are very convinced other stadiums are eager to understand and then to follow [the Twins’ lead].”

Planning to make Target Field the greenest in the major leagues began long before fans first set foot in the ballpark.

The ballpark sits on top of a former industrial site, so contaminated soil was treated and replaced in the early stages of construction. During both the demolition and construction phases, nearly 40 percent of waste materials were recycled.

Twins officials noted the Kasota limestone covering more than half the building’s exterior was sourced from Mankato, just about 70 highway miles to the southwest, limiting the environmental impact of transporting construction materials. Nearly 20 percent of construction materials contained some recycled content, and 80 percent of wood was harvested from sustainable forests.

The shiny roof that rings the upper decks was designed to reflect sunlight, reducing summer air conditioning costs and limiting Target Field’s contribution to the urban heat-island effect. Energy-efficient field lighting, indoor lighting and heating, cooling and ventilation systems were expected to save the team nearly $40,000 a year in energy costs.

High-efficiency fixtures installed throughout the ballpark could have an even greater impact than the rainwater recycling system, saving the team a predicted 4.2 million gallons of drinking water each year.

The Twins sustainability campaign won’t end when they hang the LEED Silver plaque on the wall at Target Field.

A reminder to fans to use the stadium’s scores of recycling bins will play on Target Field’s massive video screen before and during games. Organic waste will be composted or sent to area hog farmers for feed.

Pentair will use its multi-million dollar sponsorship agreement with the Twins to raise awareness about global water quality and supply issues.

The Twins also launched their new “Break a Bat, Plant a Tree” program, promising to plant 100 trees in a state park or along a state trail every time a Twins pitcher breaks the beat of an opposing player. Just think: Next time you’re hiking in your favorite park, you might have Carl Povano’s fastball to thank for the view.