As the University works towards ambitious sustainability goals, Palmer Park provides a strong example of opportunities at the intersection of athletics, sustainability and fan engagement.
This year, the UVA Softball team’s winning record extended beyond the playing field. UVA Sustainability partnered with UVA Athletics, UVA Dine and many others this past season to pilot a variety of eco-initiatives at Palmer Park. As the University works towards ambitious sustainability goals, Palmer Park provides a strong example of opportunities at the intersection of athletics, sustainability and fan engagement.
- GREEN BUILDINGS: UVA worked with an expert team of architects, engineers and field specialists to design and build a sustainable ballpark. Palmer Park received LEED Silver Certification from the US Green Buildings Council, meaning UVA Softball’s new home goes above and beyond as a showcase for green building practices. Some notable strategies include all-LED field lighting (a first for UVA!), low-flow water efficient fixtures in bathrooms and locker rooms, and prioritization of recycled and healthy building materials in construction. These material choices and other healthy building strategies -- natural daylighting, views of nature, and enhanced indoor air quality -- support the physical and mental well-being of all who use or visit Palmer Park.
- CLIMATE ACTION: From the start, Palmer Park was designed to be as energy efficient as possible. High performance windows, building equipment, LED lighting systems and smart building controls ensure energy and operating costs are minimized. An all-electric HVAC system furthers this goal while limiting on-site carbon emissions in support of UVA’s carbon neutrality and fossil fuel-free goals.
- COMPOSTING: Starting in the spring 2022 season, composting was provided for fans throughout the stadium. Sustainability Student Employees set up compost bins along the concourse prior to the game, helped fans sort waste appropriately and collected any leftover food from concessions. From 14 home games, 320 pounds of compostable materials were collected and are now being composted rather than landfilled. The waste minimization successes at Palmer Park inform opportunities for compost efforts at other athletic venues. Diverting waste from the landfill is a top priority as UVA works towards its University-wide waste minimization goal.
- COMMUNICATIONS: Infrastructure changes can be a major strike-out if not paired effectively with helpful communications. The UVA Sustainability and Athletics communications teams partnered to develop and incorporate educational graphics and public announcements during games. Spectators were encouraged to “Pitch in and help UVA meet its ambitious waste minimization goal. Make sure to recycle or compost your waste when possible!” The Sustainability Student Employees also provided hands-on support and were available to answer any questions from fans.
The pilot season at Palmer Park was a big hit – the Sustainability team is energized to partner with UVA Athletics and UVA Dine to identify other wins for athletic spaces. Stay tuned for composting expansion, creative fan engagement opportunities and energy-saving initiatives as we head into the next season.