Environmental Stewardship for Athletic Fields and Facilities

As the public becomes more aware of the environmental issues facing the world today, sports facilities are under increased pressure to turn to more environmentally friendly practices.  Natural grass and other green spaces provide a variety of environmental benefits:

  • In urban areas, green spaces help regulate air quality and climate, reduce energy consumption by countering the warming effects of paved surfaces, reduce noise and glare, recharge groundwater supplies, and protect lakes and streams from polluted runoff.
  • Green spaces provide stormwater management. Landscaped areas reduce pollutants from leaching through the soil into the water supply or from entering surface water runoff. Natural grasses filter stormwater runoff and reduce sediment, nutrients, and other pollutants from entering water bodies.
  • Natural turfgrass areas reduce heat buildup. Lawns can be 30 degrees cooler than asphalt and 14 degrees cooler than bare soil in the heat of summer. The cooling effect of an average size lawn is equal to about 9 tons of air conditioning.
  • Reduced soil erosion. The fibrous root system of natural grass stabilizes soil on flat and sloped areas thereby reducing sediment transfer and providing dust control.
  • Improved air quality. Natural turfgrass removes smoke, dust, and other pollutants from the air. Turfgrasses also provide carbon storage by capturing and using atmospheric carbon dioxide. A healthy natural grass soccer field can offset the carbon produced by a car driving 3000 miles.

STMA has developed 4 infographics for you to promote the benefits of natural grass at your facility and to the public.

Integrated Pest Management for Turfgrass Areas – The short version provides quick facts on how IPM can be a safe practice for managing turfgrass pests. Need more information? A longer bulletin supplements the quick facts with additional resources.

Environmental Benefits of Natural Turfgrass – A short version details how turfgrass benefits the environment by storing carbon, controlling soil erosion, and modifying temperatures. A longer bulletin provides supporting information and additional resources.

STMA is also developing a series of BMPs for you to put into practice at your facility:
Mowing BMPs
Fertilization and Nutrient Management BMPs
Irrigation and Water Conservation BMPs
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Pesticide Management BMPs

Adopt STMA’s Environmental Principles

STMA’s Environmental Committee developed a set of environmental principles to help guide the work of sports field managers. The STMA Board of Directors subsequently adopted the principles and recommends that members also adopt them. The Principles are voluntary and are just a guide. Use them as a framework for your environmental stewardship. They are not step-by-step instructions; rather, they represent a philosophy of responsible and sustainable field management.

With increasing scrutiny about water use, field inputs and the heightened promotion to replace natural grass with synthetic fields, adopting your version of these guidelines may help to improve the level of awareness about your environmental performance. Customize them, as appropriate. Then post them and provide them to your communications department for publication. Your field users will better understand your commitment to preserving and protecting the environment. Once adopted, use this opportunity to promote your environmental stewardship by issuing a press release.

To access them for printing a copy, click here.

For a sample news release, click here.

STMA’s Environmental Facility Certification Program

STMA offers sports field management professionals a way to validate their environmental stewardship! Sports field managers have long been known within the turfgrass industry as dedicated to field and facility management practices that minimize impacts on the environment. The Certification program allows you to create and provide documentation of your stewardship for presentation to the outside world, including your employer and local community.

This electronic evaluation tool is designed for use in assessing the environmental management practices for a complex of natural grass sports fields and facilities. It can also be used to provide strategic suggestions on how to improve upon current environmental operations in use at fields and facilities.

Access more information