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The GSB Interview: Catherine Kummer, Driving Force Behind NASCAR Green

By Lew Blaustein, GreenSportsBlog

A more recent photo of Catherine, with her son opening a NASCAR employee tree planting event in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo credit: NASCAR)

A more recent photo of Catherine, with her son opening a NASCAR employee tree planting event in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo credit: NASCAR)

That NASCAR has had a green initiative for ten years surprises some, heartens many and engenders skepticism about green washing from others. GreenSportsBlog has wanted to get the real story on NASCAR Green for several years and so we were pleased to be able to talk with Catherine Kummer, one of its many driving forces.

GreenSportsBlog: Catherine, one of the most common questions I get when I tell people I write about the intersection of Green & Sports is “what is NASCAR Green all about? Is it legit?” So I want to get into that with you. First, though, I want to find out how you got to NASCAR Green. Are you a lifelong auto racing fan? An environmentalist from way back?

Catherine Kummer: I love that it’s one of the first questions you get, means folks are paying attention and catching wind of our work. I was not a motorsports fan growing up in Raeford, NC, a small farming community in the southeastern part of the state, near Fayetteville and Fort Bragg. I was fortunate to grow up spending time on the North Carolina coast and unfortunately saw the erosion of the coastline firsthand. In fact, the area just a bit further inland was devastated by Hurricane Matthew and, more recently, Hurricane Florence in September. I was also incredibly fortunate to have amazing parents and siblings. My family has a grocery store, Home Food Market, that has been in our family for over 100 years — I grew up there and my brother runs it now.

GSB: This sounds like a Mayberry type of childhood…

Catherine: It was…and, in addition to amazing vegetables, the store gave me a deeply rooted appreciation for growing local, shopping local and buying local from an early age. Respect for the outdoors and keeping the environment better than we found it is in my DNA. I’ll give you an example. When I was in middle school, I wrote letters about the environment to then-President George H.W. Bush. The White House would send back a signed (aka stamped) photo of the President. I was also reminded by my Dad a few weeks ago that I started an early recycling initiative at my middle school….I wore my reduce, reuse and recycle shirt all the time!

Read the full article here.

Green Sports Day: Sonoma Raceway

Sonoma Raceway and Humboldt Redwood Company Partner to Create Sustainable and Fan-Favorite Seating Areas

Sonoma Raceway’s sustainability efforts have kept the wine-country facility at the front of the pack among its motorsports entertainment facilities peers. The Northern California facility is dedicated to recycling, upcycling, solar energy and mowing green with more than 3,000 sheep that help with land maintenance throughout the property, but the raceway’s most visible sustainability effort delivers shade and comfort for fans on race day.

In 2015, Sonoma Raceway and Humboldt Redwood Company, the leader in Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC® C005200) certified redwood timbers, decking, landscaping and dimensional products, joined forces to bring shade and comfort to race fans with the construction of the “Real. Strong. Humboldt Redwood Deck” above Turn 2, plus two redwood-arbor covered seating areas above Turn 2 and Turn 9.

Through its partnership with Humboldt Redwood Company, Sonoma Raceway fans can enjoy the on-track action or take a break in the shade during its summer major events including the Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the Grand Prix of Sonoma Verizon IndyCar Series season finale.


“I bought the redwood deck passes,” IndyCar fan Fadia Desmond writes. “So worth it! I would have paid more for it, it was that great!”

Herman Norman couldn’t agree more, “My seats were in the Redwood Deck area as I chose those for views after a recommendation from the ticket office. What excellent service!”

Like Sonoma Raceway, Humboldt Redwood Company is based in Northern California and its stated purpose has been to demonstrate that it is possible to manage productive forestlands with a high standard of environmental stewardship, and also operate a successful business. The company owns and manages approximately 440,000 acres of redwood and Douglas-fir forestlands along the north coast of California.

The redwood featured at the Sonoma Raceway adds to the event experience by showcasing it in a locally-sourced, sustainably-grown redwood shade structure.

“We had tickets to the Humboldt Redwood Deck and loved it,” added race fan Claire Pruett. “We will buy tickets there next year. Thanks for building such a comfortable spot to watch the race!”


Redwood was a natural choice of material for the Sonoma Raceway shade structures. Grown right up the highway from the Raceway, the team realized this was an accessible choice that fit the Raceway’s sustainability goals. In addition to its natural beauty, redwood lumber has long been known as naturally strong and durable, insect and decay resistant, and structurally stable.

There is science to support these claims. A life-cycle assessment study (a scientific technique that helps quantify the environmental footprint of producing and consuming products we use in our everyday life) showed that redwood is one of the most environmentally responsible building materials available.

Redwood uses nothing more than the energy from the sun and rain to grow, is recyclable, and cleaner to produce than composites or plastics. Plus, advanced milling processes minimize waste as well, collecting sawdust and bark that are used to produce clean energy or recycled into downstream products such as soil amendments and landscape materials. The Humboldt Redwood Company sawmill also uses this biomass energy to power operations and return excess electricity to the power grid.

Also, redwood trees take carbon out of the air and store it in wood fiber, trapping carbon in perpetuity, which helps reduce emissions and lower its carbon footprint. Even more, at the end of its useful life, redwood is biodegradable, returning to the earth to help grow more trees.


Through adherence to some of the strictest growing and harvesting mandates, as well as a replanting protocol on commercial lands, the Humboldt Redwood Company has plentiful lumber stock for future generations.

In addition to its sustainability qualities, redwood lumber is naturally strong and durable, shrinks and swells less than other woods, and is less likely to warp or split. This natural strength, combined with its environmental benefits, makes redwood an ideal choice for any number of landscaping designs, like the Sonoma Raceway shade structure, but also arbors, decks, and planter boxes.

Professional Sports Teams Going Solar

By Facility Executive

Sonoma Raceway is home to a major solar-electric-power-generating installation with a capacity of more than 350 kilowatts, along with a dual- sided, solar-powered LED display board. (Photo: Sonoma Raceway)

Sonoma Raceway is home to a major solar-electric-power-generating
installation with a capacity of more than 350 kilowatts, along with a dual-
sided, solar-powered LED display board. (Photo: Sonoma Raceway)

From the NFL to NASCAR, professional teams and facilities have installed nearly 34 MW of capacity across 16 installations over the past five years, according to SEIA.

More than 46 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity are operating at 37 professional sports facilities nationwide, according to new research from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). In the last five years, professional teams and facilities have installed nearly 34 MW of capacity across 16 solar installations, representing almost 75 percent of all the solar capacity currently in operation at sports arenas.

Every leading sports league in the United States, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, NASCAR and IndyCar boast solar assets. A third of the NFL stadiums in the U.S. have a solar system, with the MLB and NBA not far behind with 30 percent each. To put the proliferation of solar across professional sports in context, last year nearly 42 million Americans attended an event at a stadium, arena, or raceway with a solar system.

“This data is further proof that solar energy is a meaningful contributor to America’s energy portfolio,” said SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. “Ballparks and stadiums nationwide are investing in solar to save money on costly electricity bills and demonstrating that clean energy is a smart business choice for the future. Solar is becoming so commonplace on sports stadiums and arenas that all of the 2018 champions thus far have been teams with solar facilities – the Philadelphia Eagles, Golden State Warriors, and the Washington Capitals right here in D.C.”

“The adoption and investment in solar energy systems by the sports and entertainment industry has been a critical element in the sports greening movement,” said Justin Zeulner, Executive Director of the Green Sports Alliance. “Leagues, teams, venues, collegiate campuses, athletes, arenas, and stadiums are all vital in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and these clean-energy investments support building healthier, more sustainable communities where we live and play. We look forward to collaborating further with SEIA to advance further projects, as well as fan, athlete, and community engagement platforms.”

Read the full article here.

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