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Even Basketball Teams Can Score Points Against Climate Change

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 8/03/2016 Vivek Ranadivé

The Sacramento Kings recently rolled out how our new indoor sports and entertainment venue, Golden 1 Center, will be the fastest and most connected arena in the world, offering fans watching courtside and couch-side an unparalleled experience.

It's a dream come true for Golden 1 Center to be a technological marvel - the 21st Century Coliseum - but it is only part of the vision.

Past precedent would say that building basketball's newest technological epicenter would be costly to the environment because buildings of this size require massive amounts of energy to build and run.

But our fans had a different idea. In a survey of over 20,000 Sacramentans and countless focus groups, one of the top answers to the question of "What do you want Golden 1 Center to be?" was always the same: To become a model of sustainability. Our fans wanted a state-of-the-art arena that would deliver an unparalleled experience for both fans and the environment.

We couldn't agree more.

Climate change isn't some distant threat - it's a current, clear and present danger. NASA and NOAA just announced that 2015 was the hottest year on record, beating out the previous year. Unsurprisingly, this is California's fourth straight year of record-breaking high temperatures and drought - including the worst to hit the state in 1,200 years.

From increased coastal erosion to record wildfires and droughts, climate change is already damaging our environment, jeopardizing public health and hurting our economy.

So what can we do?

We've seen this commitment from our elected leaders. Near the end of 2015 California Governor Jerry Brown took a big step toward spurring renewable energy by signing an aggressive climate change bill that will require California to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2030.

But change can't just come from the government. Businesses - including large sports franchises - have a core responsibility to help facilitate our transition to renewables.

That's why I'm proud to announce that starting next season Sacramento's Golden 1 Center will be the first indoor arena in the world to derive 100 percent of its electricity from solar energy sourced within 50 miles of the arena.

This wasn't easy. It took the creative work of many like-minded partners and an openness to put sustainability at the forefront of our business strategy - to do more than just "check the green box."

With over 300 days of sunshine in Sacramento, solar innovation was key to meeting our lofty goals. By teaming up with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) to buy electricity from a new 10.9-megawatt solar farm near Rancho Seco, we'll cover 85 percent of the arena's electrical use. The other 15 percent will come from 3,300 SPI Solar panels on the arena's roof.

We're also working with SMUD energy efficiency experts to conserve energy throughout the arena with LED lighting and a state-of-the-art "court-first" displacement ventilation system, which is more efficient than rooftop air conditioners and keeps our players and fans more comfortable.

Our efforts are estimated to keep nearly 2,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually out of the atmosphere - equivalent to emissions from approximately 4 million vehicle miles.

This solar strategy is just one piece of our broader commitment to both the environment and local community. Golden 1 Center will also source 90 percent of its food and beverages from within 150 miles, building on previous partnerships with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) to establish and execute a sustainability program for the arena's comprehensive food-to-waste cycle.

Additionally, our hangar doors (which make the arena the world's first indoor-outdoor sports venue) will take advantage of the region's temperate climate. Our low-flow plumbing fixtures will cut up to 40 percent of our annual water consumption. And over 100,000 tons of waste will be recycled though our demolition process, representing almost 99% of the prior site.

Our ability to go 100 percent solar offers a glimpse into a future of sports that is committed to improving our environment. If we all join together to do our part to reduce carbon emissions and protect our resources, we can make a real impact in this fourth-quarter fight against climate change.

With a will to innovate and a belief that basketball can be used for good, we can play a part in driving meaningful change for our fans, the community and the country. The Sacramento Kings are proud to be a leading voice on clean energy in sports.

Vivek Ranadivé is the chairman and owner of the Sacramento Kings.

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