The GreenSportsBlog Interview: Matt Ellis, CEO of Measurabl — Helping Sports Teams Benchmark Their Environmental Impacts

GreenSportsBlog
By Lew Blaustein

Sports stadiums and arenas have been in the greening business for almost a decade, which is a great thing. But do venues and teams know how much energy they’re saving, how much waste they’re diverting from landfill, and more? You would think so but measurement of greening lagged actual greening. Until Matt Ellis and Measurabl came along. GreenSportsBlog talked with Matt, the company’s founder and CEO, to understand how he got into the sustainability measurement business, where sports fits in and…what happened to the last “e” at the end of Measurabl.

2018.08.07-Measurabl-IMAGE

Measurabl’s CEO Matt Ellis (L) and business development executive Chase Cockerill at June’s Green Sports Alliance Summit in Atlanta (Photo source: GreenSportsBlog, Photo credit: Measurabl)

GreenSportsBlog: When thinking about Measurabl, this adage comes to mind: “What gets measured gets managed. And what gets managed matters.” How did you get into the sustainability measurement space and why the big move into sports?

Matt Ellis: Well, Lew, we have to go back to 2008 to get to the beginning of the story. I was working in real estate in the San Diego area — I’m a San Diego guy, went to UC San Diego undergrad and San Diego State for grad school, my family was in the real estate business. I was working for CBRE at the time…

GSB: …When the “econ-o-pocalpyse” hit…

ME: Exactly! My business was not that strong, to say the least. I had plenty of time on my hands, walking around town, looking for deals. I saw plenty of decals on buildings, decals like “LEED ” and “ENERGY STAR.” I started to ask “why?” I found out sustainability drives higher occupancy rates, higher quality tenants, and higher rents, among other positive outcomes. Not long after that, CBRE management asked me to start and run a sustainability practice group.

GSB: Was that in the San Diego area or national? How did it go?

ME: National. Despite the economic collapse, we were getting calls consistently from our clients who were interested in how they could leverage sustainability in their real estate portfolios. By 2010-11, we had started to offer RECs, offsets, and the first carbon neutral leases. Eventually I became CBRE’s Director of Sustainability Solutions. As all this was happening, I noticed our sustainability efforts lacked one key thing: data. We needed better measurement tools so we could learn what worked and what didn’t, sustainability-wise. We needed to be able to benchmark on a number of metrics so we could measure progress over time. Every time we looked at measurement, we were told it was too hard, too costly.

GSB: Did you accept that?

ME: Not at all. In fact, I started to ask this question: “Can we provide meaningful sustainability measurement tools?” That would be a big deal. As I investigated this question, I realized that a software solution is what was was needed. We needed to gather environmental, social and governance (ESG) data, create benchmarks for buildings and then be able to sort all of this data. The goal is to know how buildings perform in terms of energy usage, carbon footprint, materials, waste, environmental certifications and more. Convinced that an environmental benchmarking and measurement software platform was indeed doable and valuable, I left CBRE and incorporated Measurabl in 2013.

GSB: How did Measurabl do out of the gate?

ME: We’ve done well the last couple of years, providing environmental benchmarking and measurement software to real estate investment trusts (REITS), asset managers like Black Rock, property managers like CBRE, and corporations like VMware, among others. They’ve found great value in it.

Read the full interview.

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Question Of The Week: What Sustainability Means Today

Facility Executive
By Stephen P. Ashkin

AshkinPic02.27.2015

In the 1700s, sustainability meant “sustained yield” and referred to harvesting just enough trees so that the forest could naturally regenerate tree growth. What does the term mean for your facilities in 2018?

It’s interesting how the meanings of some words in the English language have evolved.

For instance, in the 1600s, the word “cheater” referred to someone appointed by the Crown to take title to land and other property for which there were no heirs. But, many cheaters were dishonest. The mistrust of cheaters is the main reason the word today refers to someone that self-servingly does not play fair.

In the 1300s, the word “naughty” referred to people that had “naught,” or nothing. Today it applies to people who behave badly or are mischievous. And one more. Even the word “sly” has evolved. In the 13th century, to say someone was sly was to mean they were bright, skillful, clever, even fun. Today a sly person usually refers to someone that may be clever… but in a deceitful way.

And so has the word sustainability evolved over the years.

In the 1700s, it meant “sustained yield” and referred to a practice of harvesting just enough trees each year so that the forest could naturally regenerate tree growth. Soon, this same concept applied to animals, fish, plants, and other items used for food: take just enough, making sure to leave enough so it can naturally be replenished.

This essentially how the UN’s Brundtland Commission defined the word sustainability back in 1987 when they said sustainability referred to “meeting the needs of the present [generation] without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

In 2005, the World Summit on Social Development, expanded the concept of sustainability. Now it had three parts or pillars: protecting the planet; treating workers fairly and giving back to communities; and ensuring profits are made using fair business practices.

While all these definitions of sustainability are still valid, today the concept of sustainability appears to be taking on one more pillar and that is efficiency.

Read the full story.

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Video Release: Vestas 11th Hour Racing Leading Sustainability On and Off the Water

Vestas 11th Hour Racing

When Vestas 11th Hour Racing set off to race around the world, they also set off on a mission to be the most sustainable team to ever compete in the Volvo Ocean Race, backed by the support of their two co-title partners Vestas and 11th Hour Racing. ‘Leading Sustainability,’ the team’s summary video of their efforts to accomplish this goal, reveals what it takes to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of a professional sports team, how this shared mission brought the team together, and how they addressed sustainability in the face of adversity.

Some key sustainability accomplishments of Vestas 11th Hour Racing in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race:

  • The team calculated and offset their carbon footprint of 1218 tonnes of CO2 emitted. The offset will be carried out through Seagrass Grow, a program of the Ocean Foundation. It is estimated that seagrass is up to 35x more effective than Amazonian rainforests in their carbon uptake and storage abilities. Vestas 11th Hour Racing is the first Volvo Ocean Race team to track and offset their carbon footprint.
  • Through their legacy project with 11th Hour Racing, the team awarded $120,000 in grant funding to local environmental organizations ($10,000 at each stopover) to support and raise awareness to the incredible efforts happening worldwide to restore ocean health. (See Route Map below with names of organizations.)
  • By adopting Meatless Mondays, the team reduced their carbon footprint by 2.72 tonnes and prevented the use of 671,000 liters of water. These actions not only helped the team reduce their water usage and carbon footprint, but it helped them raise awareness of this global movement. In fact, if you eat just one less burger per week, over the course of a year, it’s the same as driving 320 miles less in your car.
  • 92% of the team’s accommodations were within walking, biking, or public transport distance from the race villages. This careful planning enabled the team to reduce their reliance on cars and taxis as well as their overall carbon footprint.
  • 99,300 people visited the public Exploration Zone in the team base, learning about renewable energy, ocean science, the circular economy, and microplastic pollution. Additionally, over 550,000 people viewed the team’s sustainability-focused videos on social media
  • The team was able to achieve a 74% diversion rate (62% recycling 13% composting) meaning that only 26% of their waste went to the landfill. By comparison, according to the World Economic Forum, Germany has the highest recycling rate in the world at 56%.
  • The team removed 212 kilos of trash from beaches. Combined with the 2.1 tons of abandoned fishing gear that will be removed from the ocean by 11th Hour Racing’s grantee Healthy Seas, the team will compensate for the waste they sent to landfill, and for the rig and sails lost overboard during their dismasting in the Southern Ocean.

Read the full story

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