Nov 29 2011

Opinion: Councilman Keating Compares “Green” Options of 3 Sports Fields

Expanding Coaches Would Be The “Greenest” Of Them All –

Submitted by Piedmont Council Member Garrett Keating on Nov. 27, 2011

While I agree with Morissa* about the futility of analyzing the Blair Park proposal as “green” in light of what it proposes for Moraga Canyon, in this age of increasing global temperatures and declining water resources, we do have to “do the math” as Mr. Hanf** suggests to guide decisions about how we use our resources. To that end, I have compared the green benefits of the field options: Alameda Point, Blair Park and Coaches Field expansion.

Gas and Cost

Mr. Hanf estimates that 300 cars (1 player per car) traveling 20 round-trip miles to Alameda Point 2 times a week for 11 weeks is 132,000 miles and at an IRS reimbursement rate of $.51 per mile, that comes to a cost savings of $67,320. More likely, if 75 carpools (4 players per car) make the same trip, that comes to 33,000 miles. And with gas at $3.75/gallon, 75 carpools at 20 mpg traveling to Alameda Point twice a week for 11 weeks comes to $6188 in cost savings. So the fuel and cost savings of the Blair Park proposal appear not to be as great as suggested by Mr. Hanf.  The Coaches proposal would produce the same gas and cost savings as the Blair Park proposal.


Using the EPA’s emissions estimate of 0.916 pounds CO2/mile, round-trip emissions from Piedmont to Alameda Point would be approximately 15 pounds CO2 per car per trip ( Assuming that 120 Piedmont cars (600 trips per week) do travel to Alameda Point each day, CO2 emissions for this field option come to 1800 pounds CO2/day. The Blair Park proposal affects CO2 emission by slowing vehicles down which leads to an increase in CO2 emission per vehicle due to a reduction in engine efficiency at lower speed. Using a model from the California Air Resources Board, 12,000 cars traveling the 2 mile round trip though Moraga Canyon at 35 mph produce about 18,600 pounds CO2/day ( When that speed is reduced to 25 mph, the CO2 estimate for 12,000 cars making the 2-mile trip through Moraga Canyon is 23,250 pounds CO2/day, a net increase of about 4600 pounds CO2/day. This is a first approximation but it appears that the Blair Park proposal leads to a net increase of CO2 emission for Piedmont over trips to Alameda Point. To the extent that the Coaches proposal can be designed to eliminate the round-about at Maxwellton, it will result in less CO2 emissions than the Blair Park proposal because cars can maintain higher speeds and more efficient combustion.


There are no noise impacts from the Alameda Point option. Average noise measured at Coaches on November 14 – 15 at a distance of 130 feet from 50 people at a U8 soccer game was 70.3 dB. Noise estimated for Blair Park at a distance of 130 feet from 188 adults attending a U14 soccer game (worst case scenario) was 65 dB (DEIR, 285). How do 188 people at Blair Park produce less noise than 50 people at Coaches? Clearly they can’t and the noise analysis in the EIR is clearly flawed. The Coaches alternative would reduce noise impacts by placing the smaller field at Blair and the largest, noisiest field at Coaches. At Coaches, the noisiest field would be within 300 feet of fewer Piedmont homes than at Blair Park.


The sustainability comparison here is not with a grass field at Blair Park or Alameda Point, neither which are viable options, but with the alternative at Coaches. The question is whether the Coaches alternative would use less water, more natural vegetation and require less utility infrastructure to accommodate surface runoff. The Blair proposal requires extensive non-native species to mask the retaining walls and berms and underground storage vaults to contain the surface runoff from all the impervious surface. With the Coaches proposal, reduced field size at Blair lessens the need for vegetation screening and would therefore require less water. It may also be possible to design a smaller field at Blair such that no underground water storage be required and no underground utilities be relocated. With an expanded Coaches, no new vegetation would be required. Additional runoff could be more efficiently and economically controlled through retention at Mountain View Cemetery. Given the reduction in water use with the installation of artificial turf at Coaches, the Coaches alternative uses less water than the Blair proposal.

Coaches = ‘Greenest’ Option 

So, the Alameda Point option is probably the greenest option from Piedmont’s perspective. The trade-off is the time commitment to get there. If Piedmont chooses not to make that commitment, then it should consider the greenest of options, which appears to be Coaches expansion. Unfortunately, Blair Park proponents refusal to contribute to that proposal has prevented Piedmont from studying this option.

* Opinion: Blair Park Sports Project Will Not Be ‘Green’ by Morrisa Sherman published November 15, 2011

**  In the November 9 issue of The Piedmont Post, Mr. Lance Hanf, the treasurer of the Piedmont Soccer Club wrote the opinion piece “Blair Park green benefits: just do the math.”

(This article expresses the personal opinions of the author.  All statements made are the opinion of the writer and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.)

2 Responses to “Opinion: Councilman Keating Compares “Green” Options of 3 Sports Fields”

  1. Thanks for all your hard work on the council. Thanks also for making an attempt to analyze the options from a green perspective.

    I suspect your CO2 analysis suffers from some poor assumptions. First, why would a roundabout at Maxwellton slow cars for 2 miles? It would more likely slow them for a few seconds. Second, due to the slope of the road, I rarely touch the gas going down so the engine is idling. Going up, my car typically shifts down so that engine speed is relatively high even at 25 mph. My point is that lower CO2 emissions at 35mph are probably due to engines operating at a more efficient rpm, but a downshifted car at 25 may already be operating at or near peak efficiency, and idling down the hill at 25 or 35 does not really matter much from a CO2 perspective. Of course my first point was that cars will not slow much anyway, so my second point only matters if I am wrong about the first.

    I live across from Linda field and hear a fair amount of noise coming from the kids and parents playing there. This is of course subjective, but I find the noise of kids playing to be relaxing and pleasant. It brings the neighborhood to life and makes the annoying traffic noise from Oakland Avenue easier to live with. From my perspective, the play field is a welcome neighbor and the extra noise a non-issue or even a plus.

    Finally, I noticed that Coaches field was a mud pit all fall? Do you know if that is typical? It rained a couple of times, but the field stayed muddy for weeks. Parts of the field near the street were unplayable because the kid’s feet would sink several inches with each step. If that is normal, then artificial turf is a no-brainer from the perspective of having a useful field. I understand that turf and lights have been on the table for years. I’m not aware of an expansion plan. What does that entail?

    Thanks again for your analysis and your service to the community.

  2. Lee, I think my assumptions are fine, perhaps simplistic, but are adequate for a first approximation. I use EPA and CARB models and use fixed speeds to estimate CO2. 85% for Moraga is 38 mph and sight line requirements for the Blair proposal require vehicle speeds of 25 mph so I think I’m in the ballpark. I think cars will be slower than you think – I don’t account for slower speeds at the round-about (15 mph) nor the stops and starts of cars on Moraga at the crosswalks and driveways which will reduce efficiency. As for noise, noise measured with a sound meter at Coaches is higher than estimated for the larger crowds expected at Blair. I think the noise estimates are flawed and there is the potential to exceed noise standards if this is not properly assessed. A soggy Coaches is normal and artificial turf has been proposed for the field but has been delayed as Blair gets hashed out. The expansion I refer to is a design put forward by Chuck Oraftik, an architect in town, as an alternative to the Blair Park proposal. His design would expand the existing field at Coaches to provide the 150×300 field and put a smaller field at Blair. I think that design is significantly “greener” than the Blair proposal and would cost less to build. E-mail me at and I’ll send you Chuck’s presentation.

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