The challenge was accepted, and four years later it was accomplished.
On Thursday the Marlins announced that Marlins Park achieved LEED Gold Certification, making it the first retractable roof facility in the world to earn the honor. Loria was presented with a plaque Friday afternoon to signify the ballpark's achievement in sustainability.
"A lot of people have often thought this is an award," said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council. "I'd like to think about this as the organization has earned its Ph. D, because earning one of these is not an easy task. The team that's up here did some amazing things to bring this plaque to the building."
LEED-NC (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction) is a rating system designed by the USGBC to guide newly constructed, high-performance buildings that minimize their impact on the environment, are operated in a more efficient manner and are healthier for those who use the building.
In order to earn LEED Gold Certification, a building must earn 30 credits. Marlins Park received 40 points toward LEED Certification, making it the most sustainable stadium in Major League Baseball, earning four more credits than Target Field in Minnesota.
The sustainable designs put forth by Populous architecture firm and construction efforts at Marlins Park include sustainable site selection, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere considerations, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.
Many projects have LEED certification as an afterthought, but Marlins Park had it as a goal from the start, and efforts were first initiated by choosing to build on previously developed land -- the site of the old Orange Bowl. That provided multiple transportation options to the facility and resulted in community connectivity.
In terms of water efficiency, the building's plumbing is designed to reduce water usage by 52 percent in comparison to similar stadiums. It is estimated that the stadium's restrooms will save six million gallons of water each year thanks to 249 waterless urinals.
Marlins Park achieved a 60 percent reduction in potable water use for irrigation purposes by implementing a landscape design that featured native plant species, as well as species that required lower water demands.
As far as construction of the stadium, 97 percent of the debris was recycled and 58 percent of all materials used to erect Marlins Park came from within a 500-mile radius, which allowed for a reduction in transportation energy and emissions into the atmosphere from the transportation.
Throughout areas of the stadium, including the clubhouses, the floor is made of a synthetic pouring comprised of recycled Nike shoes, which earned the facility three innovation credits. The number of windows and glass panels provide plenty of natural lighting.
The ballpark ensures a safe indoor environment by using low volatile organic compound paints, tiles and adhesives throughout the 928,000 square-foot, 37,000-seat stadium.
The most difficult aspect of achieving LEED Gold Ceritifcation, though -- and one the design team had doubt it would be able to accomplish -- was the retractable roof and the energy required to operate it. Populous explored solar panels (which are still in play down the road) because it thought renewable energy would be a part of the sustainability equation, and it optimized lighting, mechanical controls and electrical aspects to achieve a 22.4-percent reduction in energy usage, which exceeded the 14 percent required for certification.
"It was our desire from the onset to not only build America's greatest new ballpark," Loria said," but also its most environmentally friendly."
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.