Florida Green Building Law: NASCAR Goes Green

July 23, 2013 | By

This blog post originally appeared on FloridaGreenBuildingLaw.com (July 23, 2013).

NASCAR-Goes-GreenHello, Race Fans! Anyone who follows auto racing knows that fuel strategy is key to success on the track.  Florida-based NASCAR is attempting to separate itself from the pack by adding electric car charging stations to its LEED Gold Daytona Headquarters.

NASCAR, of course, isn’t the first racing series to focus on off-track fuel matters. For decades, INDYCAR utilized 100% fuel-grade methanol in its open-wheel series.  Methanol is a simple form of alcohol — a light, volatile, colorless, flammable liquid with a distinctive odor similar to ethanol (which is also known as “denatured alcohol”). Because it burned colorlessly, the risk of serious burns from methanol to pit crews and drivers from fire was omnipresent. INDYCAR now uses E85, which is an ethanol fuel blend of 85% denatured ethanol fuel and 15% gasoline (or other hydrocarbon) by volume. E85 can be used by “flex-fuel” over-the-road vehicles in the United States and Europe. Currently, compatibility with fuel system components and government subsidies of ethanol have proved a political challenge to the acceptance of and use of E85, especially outside of the corn-growing states in the Midwest.

The ethanol controversy has not necessarily found its way to the track. NASCAR, the larger racing circuit in the US, is not one to easily break from tradition on the track. As such, the plug in program in Daytona probably isn’t the first step toward incorporating batteries and photovoltaics into its next “Car of Tomorrow”, though it does run a blend of E15 (15% ethanol, 85% gasoline) fuel.

Off the track, NASCAR is a leader, boasting on its web site that it “has the largest recycling and environmental sustainability programs among all U.S. sports, the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility (Pocono Raceway), a tree-planting program capturing 100 percent of the emissions produced by on-track racing, and the largest recycling program in sports with Coca-Cola Recycling, Coors Light, Safety-Kleen and Creative Recycling.” The 20-story NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte, NC, also carries a Silver LEED designation.

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