Towards a New Baseball Stadium
April 2, 2012
Progressive Field just got a little more progressive. Perched on the southeast corner of the Cleveland stadium is a newcomer to the local sports scene: an 18-foot wide wind turbine shaped like an oversized piece of fusilli pasta.
The turbine’s corkscrew shape, engineered by Dr. Majid Rashidi at Cleveland State University, keeps the structure compact and cost-effective by channeling passing winds around a central core to power four small fans. The 3,000-pound structure will generate approximately 40,000 kilowatt-hours per year, according to Treehugger. If you’re not sure what that means, that’s enough energy to power four homes, a seemingly insignificant feat for a stadium that saps enough energy to run thousands of homes.
But sustaining the Cleveland megastructure is not the name of the game here. The turbine, which was installed this past Wednesday, is revolutionary for its petite size, which was engineered specifically to retrofit existing urban structures. Unlike its majestic pinwheel predecessors, the helix design can generate a significant amount of energy within an urban environment, where wind speeds are often too volatile to make traditional turbines effective. Though comparatively trivial in impact, the new turbine serves largely to broadcast the need for renewable energy, as well as the potential of this new technology to cut costs and generate jobs. Illuminated with colored LED lights, the turbine will be a salient statement alongside the 42 solar panels installed in the stadium back in 2007 and the ballpark’s expanded recycling program that now boasts savings of $50,000 each year.
The push towards a more environmentally-conscious stadium resonates with the message of a recent op-ed in the New York Times, in which Eran Ben-Joseph called for the redefinition of the parking lot: “We need to redefine what we mean by ‘parking lot’ to include something that not only allows a driver to park his car, but also offers a variety of other public uses, mitigates its effect on the environment, and gives greater consideration to aesthetics and architectural context.” Sports stadiums are perhaps an even more acute case of wasteful, single-use architecture (not to mention their accompanying parking lots, which are deserted more often than not). By exploring these tangential initiatives, the sports stadium can evolve into a pivotal urban institution that contributes to the city in more than one way.
[All photos © Corbin-Hillman Communications, via Treehugger]