Leveraging the Power of Sports to Promote Sustainability

Erb Institute Perspective Blog
University of Michigan
By Sean Pavlik

Sean Pavlik (Erb 2018) at the 2016 Green Sport Alliance Summit at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.

Sean Pavlik (Erb 2018) at the 2016 Green Sport Alliance Summit at Houston’s Minute Maid Park.

Sports organizations are increasingly leveraging their cultural and market influence to promote sustainable communities. Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Green Sports Alliance Summit at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas where I heard stories on this topic from a wide array of sports practitioners and league representatives. A longstanding interest of mine, the intersection of sports and sustainability is at the forefront of my SNRE master’s project work with the National Football League’s (NFL) Green Bay Packers.

The Green Sports Alliance (GSA) is the leading organization working on sustainability issues with professional and collegiate sports teams, venues, and events. Established five years ago in the Pacific Northwest with just a few local teams, the GSA now counts over 370 teams and venues among its membership. Below are a few takeaways and observations from last month’s Summit.

Teaming Up With the Community
At the Summit I spoke with Linda Gancitanois, who was honored by the White House last year for her work as the founder of the “How Low Can You Go?”energy challenge in Florida. Teaming up with the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Miami Heat, the program connects 80 local schools in a friendly and educational energy-saving challenge. Each year, the winning schools are recognized on court at a Miami Heat game during the NBA’s Green Week. For the 2015 challenge, participating schools saved an impressive 1.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity and lowered their energy bills by nearly $150,000.

Striking Corporate Partnerships
Collegiate sports programs such as the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Texas at Austin have established sustainability partnerships with corporations such as BASF, Wells Fargo, PepsiCo, White Wave Foods, and Coca-Cola. Sponsorships such as these are a true win-win for both parties. Athletic departments have greater capabilities to take their sustainability programs to new heights while the corporations receive positive recognition that boosts their on-campus recruitment efforts.

The University of Colorado’s sports sustainability efforts are perhaps the most advanced in the nation. Among their recent initiatives, the University athletic department teamed up with corporate sustainability partner Wells Fargo to launch its Water for the West Campaign in early 2016. The Campaign aims to raise awareness of water conservation in the region through a pledge campaign and in-game interactions such as the Wells Fargo “Make it Rain” half-court shot competition at basketball games.

Read the full blog post here.

Register here for the 2017 Green Sports Alliance Summit in Sacramento, CA.

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AEG Brings Energy Storage to LA’s StubHub Center with Tesla Powerpacks

by Lew Blaustein

StubHub Center, Carson, CA, home of the LA Galaxy. (Photo credit: Stephanie Romero/LA Galaxy)

AEG, the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company, hosts 100 million fans annually at more than 120 stadiums, arenas and other facilities around the world. In an effort to lower its energy use and minimize its environmental impact, the company has installed an innovative, advanced Tesla Powerpack battery/energy storage system at StubHub Center in Carson, CA, home of Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy. GreenSportsBlog spoke with John Marler, AEG’s Senior Director, Energy and Environment Systems, about StubHub Center being the first stadium to have on-site energy storage.

60 cents per kilowatt hour.

According to John Marler, that is the exorbitantly high price for electricity AEG pays Southern California Edison for electricity at StubHub Center, from noon to 6 PM on high demand, hot summer weekdays. The price goes down to as low as 10 cents per kilowatt hour overnight.

This price disparity exists for large commercial customers because in Southern California, as elsewhere, there is more demand on the electrical grid during peak times than off-peak times. During peak times, the grid also tends to use more carbon-intensive forms of electric power generation, such as from “peaker plants,” which are activated on very hot days to meet demand.

Tesla PowerPack battery-powered energy storage system, similar to the one installed at StubHub Center. (Photo credit: Tesla)

Tesla PowerPack battery-powered energy storage system, similar to the one installed at StubHub Center. (Photo credit: Tesla)

In January 2016 StubHub Center installed 20 Tesla Powerpack commercial batteries for the purpose of shifting usage from peak to non-peak periods and to reduce event-related demand spikes, becoming the first stadium to have energy storage on site.

The technology embedded in the batteries used in Tesla electric vehicle (EV) drive trains is similar to the technology in battery systems that power homes, businesses and now stadiums. So, to my eyes, Tesla is much more than an iconic EV maker—which is off-the-charts cool as it is— it is rapidly evolving into a Battery Systems Manufacturer/Energy Storage company.

Read the full blog here.

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Think It’s Hot Now? Just Wait

New York Times
By Heidi Cullen

July wasn’t just hot — it was the hottest month ever recorded, according to NASA. And this year is likely to be the hottest year on record.

Fourteen of the 15 hottest years have occurred since 2000, as heat waves have become more frequent, more intense and longer lasting. A study in the journal Nature Climate Change last year found that three of every four daily heat extremes can be tied to global warming.

This map provides a glimpse of our future if nothing is done to slow climate change. By the end of the century, the number of 100-degree days will skyrocket, making working or playing outdoors unbearable, and sometimes deadly. The effects on our health, air quality, food and water supplies will get only worse if we don’t drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions right away.

Read the full store here.

 2016.08.23-NYT U Think its Hot-IMAGE2016.08.23-NYT U Think its Hot-IMAGE2

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