On Wednesday evening, June 28, 2017, the Green Sports Alliance will present its annual Environmental Leadership Award and Environmental Innovators of the Year awards, the highlight of its annual Green Sports Celebration. The awards, now in their sixth year, recognize and celebrate the best in sports and sustainability. The Sacramento Kings and their LEED Platinum-certified Golden 1 Center will play host.
The Environmental Leadership Award is among the most prestigious: only individuals are eligible; their teams or organizations are not. It goes to a person who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership: their contribution to environmental sustainability is so influential that it spurs innovation at the team, venue, league, or with fans – and in so doing, advances the entire sports and sustainability movement.
This year’s award goes to Jack Groh, director of the National Football League Environmental Program. His first Super Bowl greening effort was at the Georgia Dome in 1994, and he has worked tirelessly ever since. Under his leadership, the Super Bowl is now recognized as one of the greenest professional sports events in the United States. In addition, Groh oversees greening for the NFL Pro Bowl, and the NFL Draft.
Past honorees include:
- 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)
Although not singular like the Environmental Leadership Award, no less significant are the Environmental Innovators of the Year awards. Both individuals and organizations are eligible for this highly competitive award. This year’s winners represent a wide variety of sports at the collegiate and professional level, as well as suppliers and vendors:
As Official Carbon Partner of Rio 2016, The Dow Chemical Company, applied its Climate Solutions Framework for Events with Rio 2016 through a tailor-made program to address environmental and technology needs of Brazil and Latin America by introducing low-carbon solutions and practices within key sectors of the economy.
The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Office of Sustainability installed new waste infrastructure at the IU Natatorium, re-designed its concessions menu, and had an engagement campaign with USA Diving and the Olympics Local Organizing Committee for the 2016 Olympic Dive Trials.
Jami Leveen, Aramark director of community relations, works on a number of innovative Aramark initiatives that advance consumer health and wellness and strengthen the communities Aramark serves, including a community health engagement and education program that helps people make better food and nutrition choices; and a global day of service, in which 10,000 employees volunteer their time and skills to enrich and nourish lives in communities around the world.
The LA Galaxy soccer club illuminates its field using high-efficiency LED sports lights; about half the water to irrigate the pitch is recycled. The team boasts an in-stadium greenhouse, chicken coop, and apiary, which produces 800 pounds of honey annually.
The LA Kings utilize fan engagement as well as service activities with charitable partners outside the arena to boost environmental knowledge and commitment. For example, during the 2016-17 NHL season, the team hosted a tri-city beach cleanup with Heal the Bay, in which 250 volunteers – made up of fans, former players, staff and more – removed 700 pounds of trash in just two hours. LA Kings Green is proudly supported by Waste Management.
Montreal Canadiens/Bell Centre’s Goal is Green includes a number of innovations such as its reverse osmosis system that recycles the Zamboni resurfacer grey water – resulting in rink ice produced with recycled water instead of drinking water – as well as some of the best ice in the NHL.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates the Verizon Center in Washington DC, counterbalanced over 3,123 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from 201 events at the arena including concerts, Wizards, Capitals, Mystics and Georgetown University games in 2016—the equivalent to avoiding the consumption of over 351,000 gallons of gasoline or taking 660 cars off the road for 1 year.
The Oregon State University (OSU) student athletes who are the Beaver Athletes Sustainability Team (BAST) collect giveaway items after games and educate fans on recycling. They are working toward an end-of-year goal of composting at all team meals and installing light timers on electronics to save energy.
Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings, designed with Sacramento in mind, is the only 100% solar powered, LEED Platinum-certified indoor arena in the world. In its construction, 98% of demolition materials – 100,000 tons – were recycled. Its retractable doors open to the delta breeze for natural cooling.
Sailors for the Sea’s Clean Regatta program asks race organizers to get involved by adopting just one best practice, and building from there. In 10 years, more than 1,000 events have participated in the program, which can scale from a children’s lakeside event all the way to the America’s Cup.