DENVER -- Ballparks from coast to coast have made big league efforts to go "green" in recent years, taking on recycling and sustainability projects, encouraging "bike to the game" days and promoting an environmental consciousness that makes an impact throughout the season.
But as baseball celebrates Earth Day in 15 Major League parks, San Francisco is proud of its leading efforts as an environmental model.
In 2013, San Francisco won its sixth consecutive Green Glove Award for having the highest recycling rate in Major League Baseball. The Giants won in 2008 by diverting 43 percent of their waste from landfills to recycling, and they improved every year through 2012, when they peaked at a 95 percent diversion rate. In 2013, they diverted 94 percent of their waste.
The Giants were also awarded the WRAP Award (Waste Reduction Awards Program), administered by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) in 2010 for outstanding waste reduction efforts, and in 2012, they won the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), California's highest environmental honor.
The Giants, in partnership with PG&E, became the first MLB ballpark to install a solar system that generates green energy for PG&E customers in San Francisco. AT&T Park boasts 590 Sharp solar panels on the Port walk along McCovey Cove, on a canopy over the Willie Mays pedestrian ramp and on the roof of the Giants Building. Since its installation in 2007, the solar system has provided enough energy to power over 5,200 homes and avoids the emission of over 360,000 pounds of greenhouse gases.
Watering the field has come under the Giants' scrutiny, as they've implemented inventive practices and weather monitoring to cut their irrigation use by 33-50 percent, helping in vital water conservation efforts.
AT&T Park is one of the most transit-friendly facilities in Major League Baseball, as more than half of the fans attending Giants games come to the park on public transportation, including bus, train and ferry.
The park also features a fully sustainable concession stand, comprehensive energy efficiency plans, a complete ban on smoking anywhere in the park -- including electronic cigarettes -- and the full recycling of their field, putting 3,000 tons of their 2011 field into the community as recycled topsoil and giving the sand to the San Jose Giants for their infield.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.