ST. PAUL (WCCO) — On Thursday, the 2011 Visa Championships will kick off at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. It’s set to be one greenest events ever held there.

The gymnastics event takes up three venues. The Xcel Energy Center; the St. Paul RiverCentre; and the Roy Wilkins Auditorium.

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“The three centers that make up our campus made a real commitment to sustainability in September of 2009,” said Kelly McGrath, director of marketing. “The Visa Championships utilizes all three buildings so we knew it was a unique opportunity to implement our sustainability initiatives and marry those to USA Gymnastics.”

President of USA Gymnastics Steve Penny couldn’t agree more. He said making the four-day event green is something he had thought about from sometime. He said after walking through the Xcel Energy Center it reminded him of a forest.

“I started noticing they made a real effort to do recycling,” said Penny. “Then I said, you know what, we need to reduce the amount of paper that we use for our events.”

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Penny said when ever they host an event there’s always a surplus of paper that’s left behind and it really bothered him. They’ve decided to move their handouts and score sheets online.

“We have the ability to deliver results and information to the spectators on our website,” said Penny.

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That means anyone with a smartphone, iPad or laptop can get real time results. You can also find athlete bios and a virtual program. As the event goes on people can watch the scoring as it happens. You can see the cumulative totals and individual rankings per event.

“It really allows you to become part of the event,” said Penny.

The entire event will also be powered by Xcel Energy Windsource, a voluntary renewable energy program. Windsource is powered by 20 Minnesota wind farms.

“What Windsouce does is offsets your electrical usage during the week,” said McGrath. “There is a slight price difference. That’s why it is an option.”

The RiverCentre roof also has solar panels and their suite levels are completely compostable. McGrath said the silver wear, plates and napkins in the suites can be turned in to compost and everything else can be recycled.

“For this event we’ve increased front of house composting,” said McGrath. “So you’re going to see them on the event level marked for composting. Things like food scraps, a used napkin.”

McGrath said during the NHL Entry Draft in June they did similar planning.

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“We’d love to have a zero-waste event at some point if we can get the right partners in place,” said McGrath. “I think that’s achievable in the near future.”