Blog Archives

Pro Sports Going Green Makes Dollars And Cents


Nascar is going green (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Nascar is going green (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

It hasn’t taken long for sports organizations and athletes to set and meet ambitious goals to go green. Members of the Green Sports Alliance, which boasts some 500 professional and collegiate leagues, teams, venues, vendors, and athletes, takes the stance that if it’s good for the environment and good for the community, it’s going to be good for business. Among those nearly 500 organizations, here are a few examples:

NASCARs Pocono Raceway: “If it can be done, it will be done.”

Few Americans would make a ready link between environmental sustainability and auto racing, but NASCAR is serious about it. Consider Pocono’s “Tricky Triangle.” It’s the first major American venue to run entirely on solar — the solar farm that powers it sits next to the track. The solar farm has already produced over 24 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) and is expected to generate over 72 million kWh during its first 20 years of operation. To date, Pocono Raceway’s solar farm has offset over 16,800 metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from nearly 3,600 passenger vehicles. Biofuel powers the racecar engines that are lubricated with recycled oils and fluids. And Nascar’s green commitment doesn’t stop on the track.

Raceways like Pocono face a recycling problem unique to the sport: what to do with all those tires; just a single race can go through 600. But these disposables are reborn to new life in ways you’ve come across without even knowing it: the portable speed bump you drive over, the anti-fatigue mat you stand on while you cook, the friendly playground surface where your kids play without scrapes all come from ‘crumb rubber,’ the recycled residue from used tires. Even the paint on your automobile may include material that once competed for the checkered flag.

Keeping cool at the Golden 1 Center is a breeze.

Before even starting conceptual drawings for their 17,500-seat sports venue, the Sacramento Kings surveyed Sacramento residents to find out what they wanted in an arena. This fully solar-powered, LEED-Platinum gem in the heart of California’s Central Valley is the result. Golden 1 Center also seats 19,000 music fans for a full array of concerts. Among its many innovations, and one of its most distinctive features are the 50-foot-high glass hangar doors. They open to take advantage of Sacramento’s delta breeze, creating natural cooling in a city where outdoor temperatures can top 100 degrees. Dedicated vents pipe in cool air directly under arena seating. Energy use in the Golden 1 Center is reduced by 30% over California Title 24 code, so that there are 2,000 fewer tons of annual carbon emissions, and a 45% reduction in water use is also well above California code.

The fertile farmland of the Central Valley supports Golden 1 Center’s 10-point Farm-to-Court philosophy regarding food service. A full 90% of their ingredients come from within a 150 mile radius. What isn’t served to fans and guests goes to the Sacramento Food Bank; any food waste gets processed into fertilizer that nourishes the soil at local farms.

Andrew Ference: from hockey to the VC arena

Recognized with the Green Sports Alliance’s Environmental Leadership Award, the highest in sports sustainability, NHL defenseman Andrew Ference played 16 seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames, the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, and the Edmonton Oilers. Now retired from the sport at 37, his next career sits squarely in the world of business. With a certificate in Corporate Sustainability and Innovation from Harvard’s extension school, he’s entered the world of high risk, high reward venture capital — in particular, by involvement with clean tech startups.

Ference’s commitment to the environment is long-standing. Over 10 years ago, he was instrumental in starting NHL Green, now a league-wide sustainability initiative. Today, he’s using that same relationship-building approach he used then to get other environmentally-savvy athletes on board for a new speakers’ bureau focused on spreading the word on sustainability.

The New York Yankees and PlanLED: lighting the way in schools

After the success of the lighting conversion to LED at Seattle’s Safeco Field, the New York Yankees partnered with Seattle-based PlanLED to do a retrofit of their own beloved stadium. The work on the stadium is complete, and the work in the community is in its early innings.

They’ve teamed up with Mariano Rivera and SHINE HOPE, which takes profits from commercial retrofits and uses the money to fund upgrades to LED systems in local schools. Since its inception, hundreds of schools have received free state-of-the-art LED lights that offer truer, more natural light. These lights are environmentally friendly, much less expensive to power, and they are linked to health and increased learning. This past year, projects in two classrooms alone saved over 17,000 kWh.

Aramark: Stepping up to the plate – the dinner plate.

Some of the biggest impacts in the world of sports and sustainability aren’t on the field, but are found in related fan services, particularly in regard to food and drink. Hospitality companies such as the $15 billion food services giant Aramark, which serves 100 million sports fans each year, understand this.

Ingredient sourcing, appropriate waste disposal, and cleanup are just as essential to their mission as working with top chefs to develop menus that are fresh, locally sourced, and sustainably harvested to meet the needs of more discerning palates. They’ve already met their commitment to use only cage-free shell eggs in the US by 2015. They are on track with other protein goals: sustainable seafood by 2018, and group-housed pork by 2022As part of their contracts with Aramark, concessionaires they work with at individual sports venues have switched to compostable service ware instead of plastics.

Green appears to be the newest trend in sports!

Read the full story here.

Can the Best New Female Racer Make It to Nascar? That’s the $15 Million Question

Bloomberg Businessweek
By Josh Dean

Julia Landauer is just what the sport needs, yet she’s still scrapping for sponsors.



As soon as she could see over the steering wheel, Julia Landauer switched to cars, and it was good. Up to that point, she had been racking up trophies as one of the country’s best young go-kart racers; at 13 she was finally able to see out a car’s windshield while also working its pedals, so off she went in 2005 to the famed Skip Barber Racing School. She took immediately to the upgraded complexity, and speed, of a vehicle that had a clutch and could do 120 miles per hour, and the next year, at 14, she became the first female champion in the 31-year history of the Skip Barber Series, a launchpad for professional racers.

As is the case with all child racers, Landauer’s expensive hobby was funded by her parents, a doctor and a lawyer who got all three of their kids into go-karts because, her father decided, racing was one of only three sports that allowed boys and girls to truly compete on equal footing (archery and sky diving being the others). “The goal was just to get them to take responsibility, to get used to functioning under a little bit of pressure, and to have fun,” says Steve Landauer (he’s the doctor). The Landauers also liked that racing taught their girls to “not succumb to a lot of the social norms about stepping out of the way,” adds Tracy, her mom.

But the Landauers had no idea how talented their oldest child would be until she started winning races—and then didn’t stop. Even before Julia won the Skip Barber Series, she had decided she was going to be a professional driver someday. “By the time I was 12, I was like, ‘I could do this forever,’ ” she says.

And that posed a problem: If Julia really did stick with it, becoming a pro racer was likely to take years and cost tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get to a point where she might start earning money. The Landauers were happy to support their daughter and would keep contributing to the best of their ability, but they weren’t about to go broke doing it. So they began an open dialogue that put some of the onus on her. If Julia wanted to keep racing, she’d eventually have to figure out a way to supplement the costs.

Read the full article.

7 Lessons for Young Entrepreneurs from Julia Landauer, NASCAR

By Kelsey Humphreys

Julia Landauer knew she wanted to pursue racing as a career by the time she was 12. At that time, she and her parents started organizing her life around her dream. Landauer began working hard on and off the track, trying to land small sponsorships and grow brand awareness. Since that time she has become a NASCAR Next and NASCAR K&N Pro Series driver. At 24 years old, she has made a name for herself in a male-dominated sport, and done it all on her own, from handling her own publicity to personally pounding the pavement for sponsors — landing herself on the One Love Foundation/GCR  team. She has also become a sought-after speaker and an advocate for women in STEM.

As entrepreneurship grows in popularity, and the internet continues to provide new opportunities, more and more tweens and teens are following their entrepreneurial passions. Here are a few lessons for those hustlers and their families from the successful speaker, spokesperson, athlete and driver.

Be present.

Pursuing a dream and building a business, while still in school, requires a lot of energy and focus. Landauer missed around 130 days of high school for racing. She missed not only homework, but also the big games, pep rallies and birthday parties as well. The way to juggle it all well, she says, is to be fully present where you are when you’re there.

“When I was at school, I really dedicated myself to being in school. I try to be very present where I am, and I knew I wasn’t gonna be able to hang out with [friends] on the weekends,” she shared. “So when I was there, I really tried to make sure I was giving my friends the attention.”

Tailor your education.

There is an entire discussion about the state of the four-year college education in the United States that we won’t dive into here, but you can see why someone building a racing career may decide to skip university altogether. Landauer wanted her degree, though, so she decided to tailor her major for her specific needs. She blended computer science, mechanical engineering, communications, history and English. She wanted to “get a well-rounded education to be able to help, primarily with my racing career and brand.” At 18, having been in racing for eight years, she knew what was expected. She wanted some technical knowledge about the machinery, but she also needed to excel at communicating on camera, writing sponsorship proposals, making presentations and selling herself.

“When you’re hungry for something, you figure out what you need to do to make it work,” she explained.

Figure out the training you need to set yourself up for success, outside of your specific talents. This could mean honing your writing skills, learning basic coding, public speaking, etc. A few of my guests on The Pursuit say focus only on your strengths, but I have found that the reality for most is this: You won’t be able to outsource all of your weaknesses for years. Build your strengths in the most important brand-building areas where you need improvement.

Read the full story here.