Stadium uses 'green' design

LAWRENCEVILLE - The Gwinnett Braves' new stadium grass isn't the only thing green in the new ballpark.

As a matter of fact, the stadium is so environmentally friendly that someday soon it could even qualify for official LEED certification.

"We certainly talked about it and I think there is a good possibility we could make it happen after the dust settles," said Preston Williams, who served as the stadium project manager for the county. "We knew it was important. We wanted to be a good steward of our resources because it's the right thing to do."

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. Gwinnett's Environmental and Heritage Center is a perfect example as LEED promotes a whole-building approach in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Because of Georgia's drought the last few years, the new Gwinnett ballpark took the water savings issue very seriously.

"Water conservation was a top priority and we got clear direction from the Board of Commissioners and the board of the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau," Williams said. "Stadiums by nature are big water consumers."

To tackle conserving water, all irrigation, cleaning and toilet water used in the ballpark comes from reused water, so storm and waste water filters through a 5,750-foot network of underground pipes and into a retention pipe that is 12 feet in diameter. This system alone is expected to save about 650,000 gallons of water per year.

"I don't know of another stadium in the country doing it this way," Williams said.

Besides saving water, the stadium also has other green themes, said Tripp Miller of the Gwinnett Braves public affairs office.

These include the use of recycled steel and recycled carpet. Miller said the park even uses eco-friendly cleaning supplies, like green certified hand soap, degreaser, paper towels and toilet paper.

"We will also have a proactive recycling program encouraging fans, employees and even players to remember to use the recycling bins that will be placed around the ballpark," he said.