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Researchers Working with Sports Venues to Make them ‘Greener,’ Sustainable

By Jeff Mulhollem
Penn State University

Making sports venues such as Pocono Raceway sustainable is an organizational challenge that involves proper signage, messaging, color codes and containers, Penn State researchers have found. Image: By Michael Houtz

Making sports venues such as Pocono Raceway sustainable is an organizational challenge that involves proper signage, messaging, color codes and containers, Penn State researchers have found. Image: By Michael Houtz

Ecosystem and bioproduct researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences are working with professional sports franchises to make their venues “greener” and reduce the environmental impact of their events.

Attaining the goal of sending no materials to landfills after sporting events — instead composting some refuse left behind by crowds and recycling the rest — is as much a challenge of changing the culture and behavior of the fans as it is developing new, biodegradable packaging and eating utensils, according to Judd Michael, professor in the departments of Ecosystem Science and Management and Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

“We have found that making sports venues sustainable is an organizational challenge that involves proper signage, messaging, color codes and containers,” he said.

“Fans have to be persuaded to want to act in an environmentally conscientious way, and venues have to provide clear instructions and make it convenient to participate in their composting and recycling programs. Biomaterials science is just a part of the bigger-picture challenge, which also involves supply chains, marketing and psychology.”

A few years ago, Michael began working with the President’s Office, Intercollegiate Athletics, the Sustainability Institute, and the Office of Physical Plant at Penn State to reduce and eventually eliminate the stream of material that goes to a landfill after Nittany Lion football games at Beaver Stadium. That effort is a work in progress but for several years has resulted in 100 percent diversion from landfill for a portion of the stadium.

“At Penn State, we strive to make our own academic and sports operations as sustainable as possible and have learned many lessons as we moved to the forefront of collegiate greening efforts,” he said.

“Compostable materials are a little more expensive, and sports venue owners say, ‘Look, I don’t want to spend 5 percent more on these plates if the fans throw them away rather than compost them.’ We are making big strides forward in trying to understand signage and marketing and the psychology of fan behavior so they will do the right thing with their materials.”

Read the full story here.

Elaborate NFL Stadium Stormwater Control System Detailed

Environmental Leader
by 

2017.07.25-NewsFeed-Levis Stadium-IMAGE

Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, made environmental history when it first opened in 2014. In addition to using recycled and reclaimed materials for construction, sporting a 27,000-square-foot green roof, and generating solar power, the $1.2 billion stadium has an elaborate system for stormwater management. Details about this novel system were recently made public.

Since rainwater can turn a football field into a muddy swamp, it can easily turn a parking lot into a floodplain, stormwater collection and treatment system company Oldcastle Building Solutions points out in their new case study of Levi’s Stadium. The stadium in Santa Clara, designed by HNTB, is 1.85 million square feet, has a capacity of 68,500 (not including club seats and luxury suites), and approximately 30,000 parking spots. All those hard surfaces can generate enormous stormwater runoff.

Adding to the challenge, the San Tomas Aquino Creek flows right by the stadium and ultimately feeds the ecologically-sensitive Guadalupe Slough as well as San Francisco Bay. As Oldcastle Building Solutions points out, the stadium site sits on land that has a high water table with storm drain lines close to the surface.

To deal with stormwater in the parking lots, project engineers GHD installed a modular system of precast concrete biofiltration units. They have cells containing mulch, biofiltration media, and drainage rock. The biofiltration media drain 5 to 10 inches per hour to be in line with the county’s requirements. Above ground the system resembles normal landscaping, but it allows the water to flow downward, get treated, and then go into an underground pipe. Microbes break down the filtered pollutants while the water irrigates plants and trees nearby.

Altogether, the stadium has six biofiltration systems in parking lots and areas right next to the building. One of the main systems is 2.5 feet wide and slightly over 600 feet long. Oldcastle Building Solutions reported that the project team installed more than 2,500 lineal feet of bioretention cells for approximately 14,000 square feet of space onsite.

The biofiltration is self-sustaining for the most part, according to the company, and protects the surrounding areas from contaminated runoff. Officially opening on July 17, 2014, Levi’s Stadium was on schedule and on budget. It was the first stadium hosting an NFL team to receive LEED Gold certification.

UrthPact, Preserve, and Totally Green Bottles and Caps Score at the Green Sports Alliance Summit

By UrthPact

2017.07.25-NewsFeed-Urthpact-IMAGE

UrthPact teamed up with our customers Preserve and Totally Green Bottles and Caps to sponsor and share an exhibit booth at the Green Sports Alliance Summit. The conference took place in the newly built, energy efficient (LEED platinum certified) Golden 1 Center in Sacramento California. All of the major sports leagues in the country attended including the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS,  and NASCAR.  Many colleges, and universities, as well as international and lesser known leagues like USA Waterski, also attended.

We became a sponsor due to the strong presence of the leagues and their ability to support sustainable practices in their facilities. Since our main products are compostable plastic products, venues with closed-loop waste streams that contain and isolate the disposal of compostables are ideal.  Stadiums, airports, colleges and large corporate campuses fit this closed-loop model well.  This ensures that our customers’ compostable bottles, plates, and compostable cutlery get to the proper end-of-life destination.

From the onset of the summit, I sensed that this conference was to be like no other. As a sponsor and exhibitor, we were encouraged to participate in all of the conference sessions. We were invited to mix and mingle with attendees at all of the events, including meals and conference activities. This made our team feel more like partners than vendors.  A welcome change to the usual vendor/attendee relationship. And on a side note, the food was fantastic. The chef and his staff actually received a standing O at the evening celebration and ECO-fashion show. (Sacramento State University students designed and modeled recycled and upcycled clothing in their annual Student Fashion Association Fashion Show at the event. Way to go SAC State!) And hats off to the events planners of the Green Sports Alliance Summit.

Read the full recap here.

SPORTS MEMBERS INCLUDE...
390
TOTAL SPORTS MEMBERS
184
TEAMS
191
VENUES
15
LEAGUES