Celebrating environmental innovation and sustainability achievements in sports
Submitted by Green Sports Alliance
On Wednesday evening, June 19, 2019, the Green Sports Alliance will present its annual Environmental Leadership Award and Environmental Innovators of the Year awards. The awards, now in their eighth year, recognize and applaud the best in sports and sustainability. LEED Gold-certified Lincoln Financial Field will play host.
This year’s Environmental Leadership Award goes to the United States Tennis Association (USTA). The Green Sports Alliance will recognize tennis legend Billie Jean King, whose trailblazing efforts helped spur on the greening movement at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (home of the US Open), as well as similar efforts throughout tennis and the sports world. Lauren Tracy, the USTA’s Director of Strategic Initiatives and current director of the USTA’s greening program, will also be recognized for her work in successfully building the program.
Past honorees include:
ESPN Corporate Citizenship (2018)
Jack Groh, director of NFL’s Environmental Program (2017)
Andrew Ference, captain and defenseman, Edmonton Oilers (2016)
Doug Behar, New York Yankees vice president of stadium operations (2015)
Gary Bettman, commissioner, National Hockey League (2014)
Christina Weiss Lurie, owner, Philadelphia Eagles (2013)
Allan H. Bud Selig, commissioner emeritus, Major League Baseball (2012)
No less significant are the Environmental Innovators of the Year awards, given to both individuals and organizations for their tremendous work in the sports greening movement. This year’s winners are:
The Center for Sport and Urban Policy (CSUP) at Georgia State University seeks to enhance public understanding of issues related to sports and environmental sustainability by bridging the gap between academic research and the sports industry. The CSUP provided volunteer recruitment services for the Playoff Green program at the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, where more than 40 students, faculty, and staff served as Green Ambassadors to promote sustainable behavior during the game. Additionally, CSUP staff served on several advisory boards, including the Super Bowl Sustainability Advisory Committee to leave a positive environmental and social legacy from events associated with the NFL’s 2019 Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.
In June 2018, Fiserv Forum and the Milwaukee Bucks, in conjunction with Levy, announced their sustainability initiatives including their intent to not offer straws at events and utilize compostable food packaging as part of its sustainability program. To date, Fiserv Forum has eliminated 370,000 straws and 50 tons of food waste that would have otherwise gone to landfills. The stadium installed an ORCA Digester to reduce landfill waste; landscaped with native plants; and built the arena with recycled content, regionally sourced building materials, and low emission products. In 2019, the Fiserv Forum achieved LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
During the 2018 football season, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Zero Waste Program successfully diverted more than 91% of the 293 tons of waste generated at the stadium and achieved zero waste during 14 of the 17 football game days during the season. A total of 128 tons of compost have been recovered and 139 tons of material have been recycled (vs. 26.35 tons of waste sent to the landfill). The Coliseum uses its zero-waste program and annual Green Game as an engagement and outreach platform to help educate fans about recycling, composting, and sustainability.
The NC State University Zero Waste Wolfpack (ZWW) program integrates fan experience with operational efficiencies and compost collections to reduce waste and promote sustainability at Wolfpack Athletic events. Since its launch in 2015, the diversion rate inside Carter-Finley Stadium has improved from 18% in 2015, to 44% in 2018 and showcasing an overall waste-to-landfill reduction of 39%. In 2018, more than 18,000 fans at every men’s and women’s soccer match and thousands of fans attending home track and field events were able to recycle, compost, and engage with the ZWW. ZWW students and community members have volunteered over 3,600 hours and actively collaborate with student and community groups such as NC State’s Hmong Student Association, National Society of Black Engineers, the City of Raleigh’s Youth Council and TATA YUVA.
Pocono Organics is a 90-acre regenerative organic farm located in Long Pond, PA growing a number of regenerative organic crops including fruits, vegetables, grains, herbs, potatoes, and greens both in the field and in its greenhouses. At full build-out, the greenhouses will be 120,000 ft2 with 35-ft tall peaks, making it the largest regenerative organic farm in North America. The farm will draw power from the 25-acre 3MW solar farm that also powers its sister company, Pocono Raceway. Pocono Organics has developed the first-ever “Farm-to-Track” program with Pocono Raceway. The raceway diverts 75% of event-weekend waste and will send its compostable waste to the farm. The farm uses the compost to grow organic foods, which in turn will be served at the raceway. Rodale Institute, the global leaders in regenerative organic agriculture research, will manage the farming and soil practices with Pocono Organics as well as run research trials at the farm.
The San Francisco Giants have a long legacy of sustainability efforts including earning USGBC’s existing building LEED Silver Certification in 2010, LEED Gold Certification in 2014 and LEED Platinum Certification in 2019. The Platinum Certification was achieved through the installation of LED field lights for a more than 55% energy reduction in lighting, installation of a new field irrigation system which reduced water usage by more than 50%, investment in renewable energy credits to offset 50% of their energy use, and installation of water efficient domestic water fixtures (including toilets and urinals).
In 2019, Seattle Sounders FC became the first professional franchise of the five major leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS) and first professional soccer club in North America to commit to carbon neutrality. The commitment came as a logical extension of the club’s current sustainability efforts and was a year-long effort that has been well-received by fans, the community, and the media. The culmination of these efforts was when Sounders FC invited fans, community partners, players, and staff to plant the trees to become carbon neutral. Sounders FC planted 10% more trees than needed to offset their footprint of 1,847 metric tons and has committed to carbon neutrality from 2019 on, meaning that all club emissions within its scope and boundary will be offset for years to come, magnifying its carbon sequestration impact.
Chef Seth VanderLaan, of Delaware North, has made sustainability a focus at Miller Park since he arrived four seasons ago. He regularly speaks at regional shows discussing local food sourcing for 45.000 fans, added an on-property biodigester which during the 2018 test phase diverted over 28,000 lbs. of waste from the landfill, and works with children on their “Roots for the Home Team” farm-to-stadium program. Chef Seth sources sustainable seafood for the venue and was instrumental in building the on-property gardens at Miller Park where produce is harvested to serve the team and fans.
The Banff Marathon takes place annually in beautiful Banff National Park where it hosts more than 10,000 participants and guests from 25 countries over a series of activities spanning three days. Since the inaugural event in 2014, in partnership with SustainDriven, the Banff Marathon has continuously sought to decrease the environmental footprint and mitigate the environmental impacts of the event. The 2018 event implemented and managed 10 successful green strategies which will also be used during the 2019 event. Strategies include: waste diversion from landfill (achieved an incredible 100% in 2018 – no waste was sent to landfill!); carbon neutrality; green energy; sustainable purchasing and procurement; education and engagement of participants, sponsors, volunteers, staff, media, and community members; environmental and wildlife mitigation; utilizing a ‘virtual’ event bag; using bio-digestible water cups; and featuring a ‘Sustainability Village’ to further educate participants, guests, and vendors.
University of Texas Athletics created a multi-year zero waste strategy for all Texas Athletic events to achieve zero waste by 2020. Throughout the six football games during the 2018 season, the university was able to achieve a best single-game diversion rate of 76%. They generated a total of 347 tons of waste and diverted 105.22 tons to recycling and 49.39 tons to compost. Food recovery efforts led to more than 5,300 lbs. of food being donated to fight hunger in Central Texas. Throughout the 2018 program, approximately 900 volunteers donated 2,700 hours of time and their actions reached over 600,000 fans. With the 2018 season’s success, Texas Athletics is on pace to achieve a 90% diversion rate in 2019, one year ahead of the campus zero waste goal.
The award presentations are the highlight of the Alliance’s Green Sports Celebration, part of its annual Green Sports Alliance Summit. The awards, now in their eighth year, recognize the best in sports and sustainability. The event is hosted the evening of June 19, 2019, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and will be coupled with “A Taste of Philadelphia” showcasing innovative concepts in sustainable food and beverage.
Registration is Open for the Summit
The Green Sports Alliance Summit is the most influential convening of key stakeholders from around the sporting world for the purpose of sharing best practices, inspiring positive change, and improving the communities where we live and play. Register and learn more at greensportsalliance.org/summit
About the Green Sports Alliance
The Green Sports Alliance leverages the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities where people live and play. The Alliance inspires professional sports leagues, sports governing bodies, colleges, teams, venues, their partners and millions of fans to embrace renewable energy, healthy food, recycling, water efficiency, safer chemicals and other environmentally preferable practices. Alliance members now number nearly 600 organizations and fans representing 15 leagues in 14 countries. Visit greensportsalliance.org for more information.
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