WASHINGTON - The Washington Nationals' gleaming new baseball park that opens tomorrow night will be the first green professional stadium in the United States, the US Green Building Council said yesterday.
The stadium received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification from the council yesterday for its energy-conserving and environmental design.
To earn the certification, the ballpark was outfitted with energy-saving light fixtures, water-conserving plumbing, drought-resistant plants, and a green roof over the concessions area.
It was also erected on a restored brownfield, and it has special systems in place to keep stormwater runoff from polluting the nearby Anacostia River.
"One of the things that really strikes me about stadium facilities is that they directly touch millions of people over the course of their existence," the council's Brendan Owens said.
The stadium will use air-cooled chillers for concessions instead of water-cooled ones, as well, which will probably save 6 million gallons of water each year.
The city spent $611 million to build the stadium, selling $535 million in bonds in 2006. The DC Sports and Entertainment Commission said construction alone cost $311 million.
In preparation for tomorrow's inaugural game against the Atlanta Braves, workers bustled past photographers yesterday to add touches of blue paint to seating and decor to the restaurant overlooking center field.
The Nationals, once the Montreal Expos, moved to Washington in 2005 after the city pledged to build a Major League stadium.
The stadium's proximity to public transportation helped it earn the LEED certification.