Monthly Archives: July 2015

Green Sports Movement Gains Momentum

The success of the 2015 Green Sports Alliance Summit in Chicago, the release of several new greening resources for the sports industry, and the ever-increasing greening efforts by members of the Green Sports Alliance across the nation and the world have combined to generate significant coverage from a number of media outlets in the past several weeks.

The 5th Annual Green Sports Alliance Summit brought together more than 800 industry stakeholders to learn and share better practices and the latest innovations in greening operations, advancing the supply chain, and engaging fans. To kick off the event, the Green Apple Day of Service drew around 100 volunteers to complete a comprehensive community service legacy project at Robert Healy Elementary School in Chicago. The Green Sports Alliance also released two major industry resources: the Champions of Game Day Food report and the Greener Cleaning Playbook, both of which provide sports venue operators guidance and case studies of better practices in sustainable food systems and cleaning programs, respectively.

Please follow the links below to view coverage highlights:

Connor Sports, Connor Sports and the Green Sports Alliance Present the 2015 Green Apple Day of Service

LA Talk Radio, Interview with Justin Zeulner, COO & David Muller, Membership Director

LA Talk Radio, Interview with Scott Jenkins, GSA Board Chair, Val Fishman, GSA Board Member & Rachel O’Reilly, Wildlife Works

MSNBC,  Athletes improve performance by going green

Associated Press,  Green Movement Coloring Way Sports Looks at Environment

BioCycle, June 2015 issue: Sports Teams Build Food Recovery Awareness

SportsBusiness Journal, Sports & Sustainability In-Depth

Stadia Magazine, July 2015 issue: Rest in Peace? Find out how to extend the life of your aging facility before it’s too late

Sports Environment Alliance, Foundation Members Announced

UEFA, Euro 2016 Sustainability Report

espnW, The Greening of Sports–And Where We’re All Headed Next

Greening Sports USA Style

Guest Blog by David Stubbs

Momentum is a much-lauded attribute in sport. Well, one thing is for sure, the Green Sports Alliance certainly has plenty of it. Only four years old and it can already boast nearly 300 members from teams, professional leagues and venues, as well as an impressive array of corporate sponsors.

This year’s annual summit in Chicago was my first experience of the GSA in action. The event was well organised; it comprised lots of events – a mixture of conference and trade show – and had undeniable enthusiasm and energy driving the whole movement forward.

I was impressed by the range and number of examples of high-profile venues, teams and organisations embracing green initiatives. Predictably the emphasis was on classic green subjects – energy, waste, water resource management and green building standards. Nothing wrong in that, and there was much evidence of progress in these areas up and down the country.

I particularly liked a study reported by the US Golf Association where individual golfers had been geo-tagged to plot their movements during their rounds of golf. This gave a fascinating map of the areas of the golf course that people used – and more importantly showed clearly where people didn’t go, not even the bad golfers. Armed with this information the course superintendents could justify relaxing the management intensity in certain areas – often quite sizeable ones – and thereby reducing management costs and improving wildlife habitat. In my mind this would also make these places look better, a point on which the USGA Green Section is also gradually beginning to gain traction among the golfing public, thanks to environmental awareness raising programmes.

Over the border in Canada (Edmonton to be precise) there was a great example of inner city regeneration being accelerated by the development of the Rogers Place arena. This was one of a number of cases where the wider societal value of sport and sport development were being emphasised.

It was also good to hear about several initiatives to improve food services at sports venues, with much emphasis on local sourcing and increasing the proportion of meat-free options – said without a hint of irony in a city famous for its Chicago dogs.

I was there to participate in a panel discussion on sport and climate change. This was a topic that had not really surfaced elsewhere during the Summit, despite this year being so pivotal for global climate negotiations. In fact, there was still too much reference generally to carbon offsetting and the dreaded term, ‘carbon neutral’ without any sense that the US sport industry is even remotely aware of the cost benefits of measuring, managing and mitigating its carbon footprint.

Debating carbon management of sports events

My fellow panellists, Jeff Hansbro from Dow Chemical (an Olympic Worldwide Partner) and Eva Kassens-Noor a researcher from Michigan State University, and I mutually stressed the point that saving carbon equals saving money, and is better for people and the environment – a real triple win, that the sport sector is perfectly capable of achieving.

The GSA certainly gets it and with their undoubted marketing prowess and sheer determination to get the message across, I fully expect them to be driving the green-sport agenda for many years to come.

What I missed, however, was a sense of understanding sustainability in its broader sense. With the notable exception of an excellent keynote speech by Andrew Ference (Captain of the Edmonton Oilers Ice Hockey team and a student of sustainability at Harvard), there was very little mention of sustainable sourcing and supply chain management issues and certainly no evident appreciation of ethical sourcing aspects. It did feel and sound like a lot is being done on green technology and resource management, but in an ad hoc way and not in a strategic way based on sustainability management.

I hope sometime soon the US sport sector cottons on to the business benefits of sustainability and starts to appreciates the value of a sustainability management systems approach, coupled with effective policies on sustainable sourcing, reporting and assurance. It’s great doing techy stuff, but ultimately sustainability only works if it is fully integrated into an organisation’s policies and procedures, and becomes the way one does business. Maybe some ideas for next year’s summit?

Read the blog post on sustainabilityexperts.net.

How Sports Can Shift Attitudes Toward Global Sustainability

SportsBusiness Journal Opinion Column, Allen Hershkowitz

Ten years ago, the first professional sports league greening collaboration was launched, a partnership between Major League Baseball and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Today, the sports greening movement is a global phenomenon. The sports greening movement is changing the way venues are designed and operated, and it is changing the culture of sports leagues and teams.

The sports greening movement is arguably the most diverse, visible and fastest-growing initiative in the environmental movement. Ecologically enhancing the way sports venues are operated, and using sports media platforms to promote environmental messages to sports fans, holds the potential to influence the behavior of billions of people and a global supply chain that touches every industry.

Sports’ greening is bringing together nontraditional allies to tackle intractable ecological issues. And it offers teams, leagues and venues opportunities to save money, develop new sponsorships, and enhance their brand with fans, most of whom express a concern about environmental issues. According to a poll produced for the Green Sports Alliance, 80 percent of sports fans express concern for the environment, and 58 percent expect teams and leagues to be environmentally responsible.

Hershkowitz, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig honor the Yankees, represented by team President Randy Levine, for their environmental work.

Hershkowitz, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig
honor the Yankees, represented by team President Randy Levine, for their environmental work.

Recently, at a Green Sports Alliance event at Yankee Stadium, which honored the Bronx Bombers for their environmental work, three professional sports league leaders made a rare joint appearance: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, MLS Commissioner Don Garber and former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. They showed up to express their respective league’s commitment to environmental stewardship. And there is good reason for them to do so: The ecological problems we face are more urgent and frightening than ever. Decades of frustrating efforts urging the world’s major greenhouse gas polluters to significantly cut their emissions is failing, suggesting that our traditional approach to controlling climate-changing emissions may be fundamentally flawed. Indeed, scientists tell us that if we continue our current policies as they are, there is a high probability that global temperatures will eventually rise by at least six degrees, which would end human life on planet Earth.

Fortunately, the sports greening movement has grown beyond greening venue operations. Now it is influencing the global supply chain and educating millions of fans through game-day program eco-tips, public service announcements, TV commercials and digital and social media.

There is no law in North America requiring sports leagues, teams or venues carry out the good environmental work they are doing. And because there is no law, too many companies and most governments have not taken the significant steps needed to slow global warming. This is why the sports industry’s work to protect the environment is so important. And what the sports industry does is noticed, and it is noticed globally.

The growth of the Green Sports Alliance, a not-for-profit organization mobilizing the sports industry around the issue of environmental protection, reflects the growth of the sports greening movement its founders helped to cultivate and lead: In less than five years the GSA has emerged as the most influential environmental organization in the sports industry. GSA membership includes many hundreds of professional and collegiate teams and venues from 20 sports leagues across 14 countries. GSA members span the sports industry, from the Yankees to the Red Sox, from the Staples Center to the Barclays Center, from AEG to IMG, from the Super Bowl to the French Open, from the Winter Classic to the World Series, from the Euro Cup to NBA Green Week, surfers and sailors, snow sports athletes and Formula E owners, GSA members everywhere are incorporating ecologically intelligent practices into their operations.

North American league members of the Green Sports Alliance include MLB, MLS, Major League Lacrosse, NASCAR, the NHL, NBA, U.S. Tennis Association, Pac-12 Conference and NCAA. GSA affiliates have been established in Europe and Australia, working with UEFA, European Professional Club Rugby, the French Ministry of Sports, International Academy of Sport Science and Technology, Lord’s Cricket Ground and other sports federations. Plans are underway to create affiliates in the U.K., Brazil and elsewhere. GSA corporate members are similarly influential and diverse and include ESPN, AEG, UPS, IMG, BASF, Wells Fargo, Kimberly-Clark, Skanska, HOK, Aramark, Nature-Works, Legends, Delos, and many other companies prominent throughout the sports supply chain. As a result of the GSA’s collaboration with so many sports industry leaders, the Green Sports Alliance now advises more leagues, teams and venues than any organization in the world about the benefits of environmental stewardship, while reaching millions of fans about environmentally smarter behavior.

Each year the Green Sports Alliance convenes the GSA Summit, the world’s largest and most influential gathering for the sports community to unite around sustainability. This year the GSA Summit will take place this week in Chicago, including a reception at Soldier Field. Growing from its humble beginning less than five years ago, the GSA Summit will bring together almost 800 sports industry stakeholders to share information about ecologically better practices.

What kind of planet will we leave to our children and the thousands of generations to come after them? Fossil fuel use, industrial agriculture, deforestation, water scarcity, exponential population growth, ocean acidification, billions of tons of wastes produced every year — these are big issues. Are they resolvable? I don’t know. But I do know that we have to try to do something about them. Few sectors can be as influential as the sports industry in leading the way towards ecological sustainability. Sports is arguably the most culturally unifying and visible sector in the world, with billions of fans and a market exceeding $1.3 trillion annually.

There is hope. The good news is that leaders throughout the sports industry, from commissioners on down, have reduced millions of pounds of carbon emissions, expanded food donations and composting, are incorporating ecologically healthy food menus, developed recycling programs, installed energy efficient technologies and use safer chemicals.

Can the sports industry save the planet on its own? No, it cannot. But the sports industry can move the market and shift cultural attitudes toward the more sustainable practices we urgently need to adopt if life on Earth is to continue. And the good news is that it is doing so.

Allen Hershkowitz, Ph.D. (allen@greensportsalliance.org), is president of the Green Sports Alliance.


Read the article here.

Green Sports Alliance was also recently featured in the SportsBusiness Journal’s Sports & Sustainability In-Depth.

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