Bucs celebrate Earth Day, launch partnership

PNC Park Urban Garden reopens; Power Hitters program to plant trees in underserved neighborhoods

April 23rd, 2021

This week, the Pirates announced a new partnership with Duquesne Light Company that will enhance PNC Park’s sustainability practices and give back to underserved communities in the Pittsburgh region. The partnership will focus on two key elements -- support of the PNC Park Urban Garden, powered by Duquesne Light, and the Duquesne Light Power Hitters program.

In celebration of Earth Day, the ballclub reopened the PNC Park Suite Level’s Urban Garden, powered by Duquesne Light on Thursday. That morning representatives of the Pirates, Duquesne Light and Grow Pittsburgh joined forces for an event where herbs and vegetables that will grow in the Urban Garden throughout the season were planted.

The Urban Garden utilizes 100 percent sustainable practices and provides healthy food, grown on site. Each season it yields more than 300 pounds of fresh produce that is utilized in recipes for menu options available throughout PNC Park. The garden produces a variety of items that are hand selected by Aramark and PNC Park executive chef Pastor Jimenez.

Via the Duquesne Light Power Hitters program, Duquesne Light and Pirates Charities will partner to plant a tree for every home run the Pirates hit this season. The program will assist underserved neighborhoods, because research shows such neighborhoods are more susceptible to heat island impacts, which can cause impaired water quality, increased energy consumption and compromised health quality.

The neighborhoods are urban areas with buildings, roads and other infrastructure that absorb the sun’s heat more than naturally landscaped areas. This causes the neighborhoods to become islands of higher temperatures. The program will identify these communities and Pirates Charities and Duquesne Light will coordinate with Tree Pittsburgh to strategically plant the trees.

“Duquesne Light is a proud partner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and we are doing a couple things together,” Pirates president Travis Williams said. “One is they are the marquee sponsor, along with Pirates Charities, working with us on the Urban Garden. Urban Garden is something that we have been doing for several years and is important to our ownership and the entire organization.

“In addition to that, we’re doing an initiative where for every home run the Pirates hit throughout the course of the season, we’re going to plant a tree. We’re going to work with Tree Pittsburgh to plant those throughout the Pittsburgh region in underserved neighborhoods that could benefit from tree planting for a number of reasons.”

“At Duquesne Light Company, we’ve powered our communities in southwestern Pennsylvania for more than 140 years, and we’re proud to partner with the Pirates to continue making a difference by investing in responsible environmental stewardship,” said Mark Kaplan, interim president and chief executive officer of Duquesne Light Company. “Both organizations share a commitment to a greener and cleaner Pittsburgh region, and we look forward to working together to give back to the community we call home.”

In addition to the added program and maintaining the Urban Garden, the Pirates are extremely proud of the ongoing efforts of the “Let’s Go Bucs, Let’s Go Green” program. Since the launch of the program in 2008, the Pirates have recycled approximately six million pounds of material from PNC Park, successfully diverting it out of the waste stream.

Overall, the Pirates’ sustainability practices successfully divert more than 70 percent of the ballpark waste out of the waste stream each year, which is equivalent to more than 1,650 tons of materials. In 2020, the Pirates diversion rate of 75 percent earned the organization Major League Baseball’s Green Glove Award for the highest diversion rate in the National League Central.

In addition to recycled items, last year the Pirates donated more than 600 pounds of unused food from PNC Park to 412 Food Rescue, a program that recovers food to feed the hungry. The Pirates work with ballpark concessionaire Aramark to collect all leftover untouched and frozen food from PNC Park, and then 412 Food Rescue delivers the food to community food banks to distribute to those in need.

“We are incredibly proud of this partnership with Duquesne Light and to be able to join with them on very important year-round initiatives,” Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said. “We work year after year to utilize our unique public position to promote the importance of sustainable practices and improve on our efforts and make a true impact throughout PNC Park and the Pittsburgh community.”