Indians lead the way in going green

Indians lead the way in going green

CLEVELAND -- The idea of saving the world from its "fever" might sound like a nice ideal.

But how to go about it? Hmm.

"Let's face it," said Ron Richard, president of the Cleveland Foundation. "Most Clevelanders don't know about solar energy."

That's where the Indians have stepped in. The club, on the vanguard of efforts to fight global warming, has become the first American League team to go solar.

Recently unveiling a solar electric pavilion that will produce enough electricity to power all of the park's 400 television sets, the Indians are bent on illustrating how to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being thrust into the atmosphere.

So while the $100,000 project will hardly make a dent in the Tribe's electric bill, the move far transcends finances.

The 42 massive solar panels on the south-facing upper deck concourse will be visible from Interstates 77 and 71, and up close by thousands at every home game. Green Energy Ohio, a sustainable energy advocacy group, will staff an informational kiosk.

The project's goal, more than anything, is to help the idea of advanced energy further permeate the area's consciousness.

"Everybody who comes to an Indians game will now know that solar power is not a technology of the future," said Ohio Lt. Governor Lee Fisher. "It is here today and it is here to stay."

Said Richard: "We need our citizens to understand that advanced energy is real, it really works, and it can work here. ... This project will be seen every day by thousands, most of whom focus more on the box scores and standings than energy and the environment. But they'll start their education right here at this ballpark."

And across Cleveland. When the Indians put this project into motion last year, it was part of a larger effort from a city clearly moving to the forefront of the advanced energy game.

In fact, the American Solar Energy Society's national conference was held in Cleveland earlier this month.

Why Cleveland?

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"The answer is right beside me. Why not Cleveland?," asked Bill Spratley, the executive director of Green Energy Ohio at Jacobs Field. "The fact is that Cleveland has stepped up to the plate. They have put together visible solar projects that will be here after the conference.

"What people are going to see is a city that believes enough in the future that it will put [green projects] up across the face of Ohio. Those factories across the valleys that are closing every day can be filled with jobs making solar energy."

Maybe some of those jobs will even be a result of the city's baseball club.

"The Cleveland Indians are going to build on this," Spratley said. "We could turn this into a green stadium."

David Briggs is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.